Russia warns U.S. to stop arming Ukraine

Russia this week sent a formal diplomatic note to the United States warning that U.S. and NATO shipments of the “most sensitive” weapons systems to Ukraine were “adding fuel” to the conflict there and could bring “unpredictable consequences.”

The diplomatic demarche, a copy of which was reviewed by The Washington Post, came as President Biden approved a dramatic expansion in the scope of weapons being provided to Ukraine, an $800 million package including 155 mm Howitzers — a serious upgrade in long-range artillery to match Russian systems — coastal defense drones and armored vehicles, as well as additional portable anti-air and antitank weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition.

The United States has also facilitated the shipment to Ukraine of long-range air defense systems, including Slovakia’s shipment of Russian-manufactured Soviet-era S-300 launchers on which Ukrainian forces have already been trained. The administration last week announced that the United States will send a Patriot missile systems from Slovakia to assist in a replacement.

The first shipment of weapons by the United States, which the administration said would be arriving in Ukraine in days, was in response to a call from Volodymyr Zelensky (the Ukrainian president) to send a message to Biden. The appeal came in light of Russian forces being mobilized for an attack on the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine and the border with Russian-occupied Crimea to the south. After humiliating defeats suffered by both the Ukrainian military and the local resistance forces, the Russian troops have largely removed from much of northern Ukraine. This includes around Kyiv.

“The Russians tell us what they’ve been saying publicly, that our Ukrainian partners are receiving an extraordinary amount of aid,” said a top administration official who spoke under anonymity to discuss the delicate diplomatic document.

The State Department refused to comment on either the content of the two-page diplomat note, or any U.S. responses. response. Russia experts said that Moscow may be planning to attack the weapons convoys entering Ukraine as legitimate targets, despite having labeled them as such.

“They targeted the supply depots of Ukraine, where some of these materials have been stored,” stated George Beebe (ex-director of Russia analysis at CIA) and former adviser to Dick Cheney. The real question is: “Do they try to attack [the weapons] Ukrainian territory?” and possibly the NATO nations on the Ukrainian periphery? These countries serve as U.S. transfer points. supplies.

If Russian forces fail in the second phase, then I believe the likelihood that Russia attacks NATO supply on NATO territory goes up significantly,” Beebe stated. He said that there was a widespread assumption among Westerners that the West could provide Ukraine with military aid without restrictions and would not face any retaliation. “I think the Russians want to send a message here that that’s not true.”

The diplomatic note was dated Tuesday, as word first leaked of the new arms package that brought the total amount of U.S. military aid provided to Ukraine since the Feb. 24 invasion to $3.2 billion, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. In a public announcement Wednesday, Biden said it would include “new capabilities tailored to the wider assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine.”

The document, titled “On Russia’s concerns in the context of massive supplies of weapons and military equipment to the Kiev regime,” written in Russian with a translation provided, was forwarded to the State Department by the Russian Embassy in Washington.

The Russian Embassy did not reply to inquiries for comment.

Russia claimed that the “most sensitive” items were the “multiple launch missile systems.” However, the United States and NATO allies have not been accused of supplying those weapons to Ukraine. Russia accused the allies of violating “rigorous principles” governing the transfer of weapons to conflict zones, and of being oblivious to “the threat of high-precision weapons falling into the hands of radical nationalists, extremists and bandit forces in Ukraine.”

It accused NATO of trying to pressure Ukraine to “abandon” sputtering, and so far unsuccessful, negotiations with Russia “in order to continue the bloodshed.” Washington, it said, was pressuring other countries to stop any military and technical cooperation with Russia, and those with Soviet-era weapons to transfer them to Ukraine.

“The note stated that the United States and allies should stop irresponsible militarization in Ukraine. This could have unintended consequences for international and regional security.

Andrew Weiss is a former director of the National Security Council for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian affairs and vice president for studies at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He said that if the United States and its allies continue to militarize Ukraine, they will face “unpredictable consequences for regional and international security.”

The attention at that time was on Putin’s warning that Russia has a strong nuclear arsenal. However, Weiss asked, “Are the Russians now inclined to support that up ?”

?” He also noted the additional risk that an attempt by Ukraine to attack a convoy could fail over the NATO border.

Senior U.S. Defense officials are still concerned about such an attack. Kirby stated Thursday that “we don’t accept any movement of weapons or systems entering Ukraine as a given.” “Not on any given day.”

Kirby said Ukrainian troops bring the weapons into Ukraine after the United States brings them into the region, and “the less we say about that, the better.”

Dan Lamothe contributed to this report.

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