Russia responds to Ukrainian promises on Western arms
Russia’s defense ministry will monitor how Ukraine’s armed forces use weapons delivered from Germany and the US, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday. He noted that the arms would, of course, first have to “reach the frontline” without being destroyed on the way.
The statement came after Peskov was asked if Moscow was willing to trust Ukraine’s promises to Western countries that it will not use the supplies to carry out attacks on Russia.
“We carefully record all episodes of the use of these weapons,” the spokesperson replied. “So, if any of these weapons reach the front lines and are not destroyed by our military, we will track how they are being used.”
On Wednesday, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told lawmakers in Berlin that she had received assurances from her Ukrainian counterpart Alexey Reznikov that Kiev will only use the weapons it receives from the West for self defense and will not take of advantage of them to strike Russian territory. That was after Germany delivered seven 155-millimeter self-propelled PzH 2000 howitzers, along with other military equipment, to the Ukrainian armed forces, the day before.
While Ukraine has given similar assurances to other Western suppliers of heavy weaponry, who are concerned the conflict could escalate even further, officials in Kiev have also repeatedly indicated that they consider Crimea to be part of their country rather than Russia, insisting that Ukraine has the right to strike the peninsula with Western arms.
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 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.