MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin scolded NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday for suggesting alliance members should let Ukraine strike deep into Russia with Western weapons, and said it was clear that NATO was in a direct confrontation with Russia.

Stoltenberg told The Economist that NATO members supplying weapons to Ukraine should end their prohibition on using them to strike military targets in Russia.

"NATO is increasing the degree of escalation," Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian daily Izvestia when asked about Stoltenberg's remarks.

"NATO is flirting with military rhetoric and falling into military ecstasy," Peskov said, adding that the Russian military knew what to do.

When asked if NATO was approaching a direct confrontation with Russia, Peskov said: "They are not getting close; they are in it."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned the West that it is risking a global war over Ukraine and that a direct conflict between Russia and NATO would mean the planet was one step away from World War Three.

Russian officials say Ukrainian attacks deep inside Russia, including on civilian areas and even parts of Russia's nuclear defences, are directly escalatory.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 touched off the worst breakdown in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Russia is now advancing along the front line in Ukraine.

The United States has repeatedly said that it does not encourage Ukraine to strike inside Russia, though Ukraine has been lobbying hard to do so.

The Economist said that Stoltenberg's remarks were clearly aimed at U.S. President Joe Biden, who has resisted allowing Ukraine to strike with U.S. weapons inside Russia.

(Reporting Lucy Papachristou and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)