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16 Dec, 2022 04:33

Russia warns of ‘consequences’ of US missile deployment

US Patriot missile batteries sent to Ukraine will be legitimate targets for Russian forces, Moscow’s Foreign Ministry said
Russia warns of ‘consequences’ of US missile deployment

Russia has vowed to retaliate should the United States choose to send Patriot missile systems to Ukraine, saying that Washington has effectively become a party to the conflict amid reports that the White House is finalizing plans to supply the advanced weapon platform.

Speaking during a regular press briefing on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted recent media discussion of an upcoming Patriot deployment. If those reports prove true, she said the decision would mark “another provocative move by the US” which only intensifies American involvement in the hostilities, “entailing possible consequences.”

“Any weapons systems supplied to Ukraine, including the Patriot, along with the personnel servicing them, have been and will remain legitimate priority targets for the Russian armed forces,” she added.

Multiple press reports this week have suggested that the US government is currently preparing to ship Patriot missiles to Ukraine, with CNN stating that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and President Joe Biden are expected to approve the plan.

Kiev has repeatedly clamored for more advanced missile systems from its Western patrons since Russia sent troops into the neighboring state in February, previously requesting Patriot missiles by name. Ukrainian officials have also asked for the US-made Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), though Washington has been hesitant to send longer-range missiles over concerns they would be used for strikes on Russian soil.

However, those worries may be abating, with an unnamed Pentagon official recently telling the Times that “the fear of escalation has changed” since the beginning of the conflict. Though outlet added that Washington has given “tacit endorsement of Ukraine’s long-range attacks on targets inside Russia,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby later insisted the US is “certainly not encouraging or enabling Ukrainian operations” within Russia's territory.

In March, the US military said it would not provide Patriots to Ukraine given that local troops are unfamiliar with the system and would require significant training, even suggesting American soldiers would be needed to operate the weapon. It is unclear what has changed in the months since, or whether Ukrainian troops are receiving instruction for the missile batteries, each of which is typically accompanied by 90 US soldiers.