Putin promises 'serious consequences' to 'small, densely populated' European countries calling for Ukrainian strikes on Russia

  • Europe may want to reconsider their calls for Ukrainian strikes on Russia, says Vladimir Putin.

  • Putin hinted that Russia could retaliate against their "small and densely populated countries."

  • "This unending escalation can lead to serious consequences," the Russian leader warned.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin says European countries should rethink their calls to let Ukraine use Western arms to strike his country.

"So, these officials from NATO countries, especially the ones based in Europe, particularly in small European countries, should be fully aware of what is at stake," Putin told reporters on Tuesday.

"They should keep in mind that theirs are small and densely populated countries, which is a factor to reckon with before they start talking about striking deep into the Russian territory," he continued.

Putin's warnings come after several European leaders said that Ukraine should be allowed to attack Russian military targets. While Ukraine has been a large beneficiary of Western military support, US restrictions mean that the country isn't allowed to mount attacks on Russian soil.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told The Economist, in an interview published Friday, that the prohibitions should be eased so that Ukraine can better defend itself.

"The time has come for allies to consider whether they should lift some of the restrictions they have put on the use of weapons they have donated to Ukraine," Stoltenberg said.

"Especially now when a lot of the fighting is going on in Kharkiv, close to the border, to deny Ukraine the possibility of using these weapons against legitimate military targets on Russian territory makes it very hard for them to defend themselves," he continued, referencing a recent attack on Ukraine's northeastern city of Kharkiv.

But such a move, Putin warned on Tuesday, could have "serious consequences" for Europe.

"This unending escalation can lead to serious consequences," Putin said. "If Europe were to face those serious consequences, what will the United States do, considering our strategic arms parity?"

Representatives for NATO didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from BI sent outside regular business hours.

Stoltenberg isn't the only European leader who believes that Ukraine should begin taking the fight to Russia.

"According with the law of war, it is perfectly possible, and there is no contradiction," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Tuesday. "You have to balance the risk of escalation and the need for Ukrainians to defend."

Borrell's comments echo that of French President Emmanuel Macron, who also called for restrictions to be lifted on Tuesday, per the Financial Times.

"How can we explain to Ukraine that they need to protect their cities but that they don't have the right to attack where the missiles are coming from?" Macron told reporters. "It's as if we were telling them we're giving you arms, but you cannot use them to defend yourself."

"We must allow them to neutralize the military sites from which the missiles are being fired. But we cannot allow other targets in Russia to be hit, obviously civilian or military targets," he added.

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