Latest US Weapons Shipment to Ukraine Triggers Warning From Kremlin
Latest US Weapons Shipment to Ukraine Triggers Warning From Kremlin

By Jack Phillips

After President Joe Biden confirmed in an opinion article that the United States will send advanced rocket systems to Ukraine, Russian officials issued a warning.

Writing in the New York Times, Biden said his administration will send “more advanced rocket systems” to Kyiv as part of a new military package.

“We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table,” he wrote.

However, in response, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that Moscow suspects “the United States is purposefully and diligently adding fuel to the fire” by sending more weapons to Ukraine. When asked by reporters about how Russia might respond, he said, “let’s not talk about worst-case scenarios.”

Peskov added that such supplies would not encourage Ukraine’s leadership to resume stalled peace talks.

Asked later if the U.S. move increased the chances of a third country becoming involved in the conflict, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “Such risks certainly exist.” He told a news conference in Saudi Arabia: “It is a direct provocation [by Ukraine], aimed at involving the West in military action.”

And Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, when asked about the prospect of a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia, said that “any arms shipments that continue, that are on the rise, increase the risks of such a development,” according to RIA Novosti.

In the NY Times opinion article, Biden claimed that his administration has a “straightforward” goal to “see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.” That requires providing Ukraine with U.S. weapons, he argued.

“We will continue providing Ukraine with advanced weaponry, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, Stinger antiaircraft missiles, powerful artillery and precision rocket systems, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, Mi-17 helicopters, and ammunition,” the president wrote. “We will also send billions more in financial assistance, as authorized by Congress.”

Earlier this week, Biden told reporters that the United States won’t be sending rocket systems that can strike targets inside Russia.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which officials have described as a “special military operation,” started Feb. 24 and has lasted nearly 100 days.

Russian forces on Wednesday pressed closer to the center of an industrial city in a drive to grab a swathe of eastern Ukraine, while the United States said it would supply advanced rockets to Kyiv to help force Moscow to negotiate an end to the war.

Ukraine’s General Staff said Russian forces were pounding infrastructure in eastern and southern regions including the symbolically important city of Sievierodonetsk, which they entered on May 27.

It has been the main focus of their ground offensive for several weeks. Sievierodonetsk, a Soviet-era city, houses a large chemical factory. According to local governor Serhiy Gaidai, a Russian airstrike hit the plant on Tuesday, blowing up a tank of toxic nitric acid and releasing a plume of pink smoke.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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