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17 Dec, 2018 20:47

More US weapons to Ukraine will only make conflict worse – Russian lawmakers

More US weapons to Ukraine will only make conflict worse – Russian lawmakers

Additional and “ongoing” US weapons deliveries to Kiev would escalate tensions and undermine efforts for peace in Ukraine, Russian officials said after US special envoy Kurt Volker announced such plans, along with more sanctions.

“Moving through Congress is a military financing package of around $250 million and the ability to sell additional equipment,” Volker told reporters in Brussels on Monday. “Within the next months there will be some announcements about the first tranches. And it will be ongoing.”

He also claimed that Ukraine is “under attack” by Russia and advocated for a Western military presence near or even inside that country, to “raise the visibility of Russia’s actions.”

The notion of imposing additional sanctions on Russia over the November 25 maritime incident in the Kerch Strait seems to be “gaining some traction” among Washington’s allies in Europe, Volker said, hinting it might happen “in the next month or two.”

Russian lawmakers slammed Volker’s statements as destructive, saying the US envoy was contributing to escalating tensions in Ukraine rather than resolving them peacefully.

“This confirms once again that the US regards Ukraine as a puppet and a proxy for implementing its aggressive designs against Russia,” Yuri Shvytkin, deputy chair of the Duma’s defense and security committee, told RT.

“By supplying Ukraine with any types of weapons, the US encourage the escalation of tensions with Russia in the first place, which of course does not benefit stability in the region,” Shvytkin added.

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Talk of a western military presence is actually contributing to Ukraine’s unwillingness to implement the Minsk agreements and prolonging the conflict, the lawmaker argued. The Minsk process halted the open warfare between the two provinces in east Ukraine that refused to recognize the 2014 coup, and the government in Kiev, which has portrayed the conflict as “Russian aggression.”

Last month, three Ukrainian patrol ships attempted to forcibly sail from the Black Sea to the Azov Sea through the Kerch Strait, and were detained by the Russian coast guard. On Monday, Volker seemed to side with Kiev, and accused Russia of aggression against Ukraine.

“Russia did nothing illegal, so there is nothing for the US and its vassals to respond to,” Senator Olga Kovitidi, member of the Federation Council’s defense and security committee, told RT. “US actions are aimed at the global escalation of conflicts through incitement and unfair competition.”

Statements that qualify as “systemic provocations” have already become “an integral attribute of US foreign policy,” said Kovitidi.

“If the border of our country is violated by anyone, there will be an appropriate response,” said Shvytkin.

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Volker became the US special representative to Ukraine in July 2017. His appointment was seen as a signal of a more hardline policy in Washington, given his previous service as the US envoy to NATO under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Though US President Donald Trump advocated better relations with Russia during his 2016 campaign, he has since gone along with hardliners in Washington due to the constant – but unsubstantiated – accusations that he “colluded” with Russia to “steal” the election from Hillary Clinton.

More US weapons to Ukraine will only make conflict worse – Russian lawmakers

The Trump administration has already approved the sale of anti-tank missiles to Kiev, and budgeted $200 million for weapons deliveries in 2018, with an additional $250 million in the budget for the 2019 fiscal year.

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