By criticizing the United States for its decision to send rocket systems and other sophisticated weapons to Ukraine, Russia warned that it could widen the conflict and increase the risk of direct confrontation with Washington.
On Wednesday, the United States unveiled a new $700 million arms and ammunition package for Ukraine in an effort to prevent Russia from seizing the last swathes of land in the Donbass region. Among the weapons promised to send to Kyiv is the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), a multiple rocket launcher system.
US officials had said the systems sent to Ukraine would allow them to launch rockets at about 49 miles, well below the systems’ maximum range but more than anything Kyiv has sent to date, CNN reports.
According to Reuters, Reacting sharply to the move, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “We believe the United States is deliberately and diligently adding fuel to the fire.”
Asked later whether the US decision increased the chances of a third country becoming involved in the conflict, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “Such risks certainly exist.”
He told a press conference in Saudi Arabia: “This is a direct provocation (by Ukraine), aimed at involving the West in military action.”
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However, the United States claimed to have received assurances from Ukraine that the weapons systems supplied by Washington will not be used “against targets on Russian territory”.
In a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “There is a strong bond of trust between Ukraine and the United States, as only with our allies and partners.
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But Russian Deputy Prime Minister Peskov said Moscow did not trust such assurances. He said he was assessing the risk of rocket fire on Russian territory and taking appropriate action, but viewed Washington’s move “extremely negatively”.
(With agency contributions)
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Post expires at 6:55am on Sunday June 12th, 2022