https://www.newsweek.com-By Andrew Stanton
Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin have made stark threats amid reports the U.S. is sending advanced long-range weapons to Ukraine. Above, Putin in Moscow on June 2. MIKHAIL METZEL/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
As the Ukraine war drags on, Russian authorities including President Vladimir Putin issued stark warnings this week against the U.S. sending Ukraine long-term missiles. The threats follow President Joe Biden announcing that Ukraine will receive more advanced rocket systems.
The U.S. has become a key supporter of Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s invasion, sending the country billions of dollars in military aid. Biden announced more efforts to support Ukraine on Tuesday.
He pledged to send Ukraine “more advanced rocket systems and munitions” to help it “precisely strike key targets on the battlefield.” He added the U.S. is “not encouraging” Ukraine to use the weapons beyond its borders. A day later, the Defense Department announced about $700 million in new security assistance for Ukraine.
Specifically, the U.S. is sending Ukraine the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, which can hit targets as far away as 50 miles. Ukraine has given assurance they will not be used to strike inside Russia.
The military aid package has drawn several threatening responses from Russian authorities.
Putin Warns of ‘New Targets’
Putin said in an interview Sunday his military will attack new targets if Ukraine is sent long-range missiles.
“If it now comes to rockets and they are supplied, we will draw conclusions from that and employ our weapons that we have in sufficient quantities to strike those facilities that we are not attacking so far,” he said in an interview with Rossiya-1.
Last weekend, Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, said the delivery would be “intolerable.”
“There is a risk that such equipment will be placed near Russia’s borders and Ukrainians will be able to strike at Russian cities. Such a situation is unacceptable and intolerable for us,” he said.
Hitting Outside Ukraine
Earlier this week, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev told Al Jazeera that delivering long-range missiles would threaten Russian security and that Moscow may strike targets in the West if they are hit with U.S. missile.
“If, God forbid, these weapons are used against Russian territory then our armed forces will have no other choice but to strike decision-making centers,” he said. “Of course, it needs to be understood that the final decision-making centers in this case, unfortunately, are not located on the territory of Kyiv.”
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Biden is “pouring oil on the fire” by sending advanced rockets to Ukraine, Reuters reported.
“The U.S. is obviously holding the line that it will fight Russia to the last Ukrainian,” Peskov said.
Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that Western nations supplying Ukraine with long-range weapons would be a “serious step towards unacceptable miscalculation.”