US accuses Russia of issuing ‘empty threats’
The White House has brushed aside concerns over a formal complaint from Russia, apparently sent to the US after Washington announced its latest $800-million package of weapons supplies to Ukraine. Press Secretary Jen Psaki appeared to call the message an “empty threat” during her Monday briefing.
Psaki was asked about the warning, in which Moscow allegedly mentioned the “unpredictable consequences” of Washington’s continued arming of Ukrainian troops with increasingly sophisticated weapons. The note was reported last week by US media.
“We’re not going to comment. I mean, I’m not going to speculate on empty threats or threats by President [Vladimir] Putin or by Russian leadership,” Psaki told journalists.
She added that US assistance for Ukraine will continue, as promised by US President Joe Biden. Other US officials made statements in the same vein last week.
The letter from Moscow accuses NATO of pressuring Ukraine to abandon negotiations with Russia “in order to continue the bloodshed,” and condemned Washington for encouraging more arms supplies, according to media reports. Neither Washington nor Moscow have confirmed them.
Russia repeatedly warned that the arms shipments being sent by the US and its allies to Ukraine were a destabilizing factor. Convoys could be attacked by the Russian military once they reach Ukrainian soil, Moscow has also said.
According to the Russian government, the support is emboldening Kiev and will only result in continuation of the armed conflict, with casualties piling up and damage to Ukraine increasing correspondingly. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu assessed on Tuesday that the growing volume of weapons that the US pledged to send to Ukraine indicated that it wanted a fight “to the last Ukrainian”.
Western nations have insisted that the arms supplies are meant to help Ukraine defend itself from Russian “aggression” and to inflict a cost on the Russian troops. Foreign officials have reportedly pressured the Ukrainian government to keep on fighting until they secure necessary concessions from the Kremlin. Moscow has repeatedly said it will achieve all its objectives in Ukraine despite the resistance.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine's failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow's eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.