Russia responds to British Ukraine weapons airlift
A series of reports in Western media claiming that Russia could be poised to invade Ukraine are a pretext to supply Kiev with lethal weaponry and spark a conflict on their shared border, Moscow has alleged amid a series of arms deliveries carried out by Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF).
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that “Western and Ukrainian media and government officials are becoming even more active in their speculation about an ‘imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine.’ We are convinced that the goal of this campaign is to create an information cover for their own-large scale, military provocations, which could have severe and tragic consequences for regional and global security.”
“Britain has been sending arms to Ukraine with its RAF planes for several days,” Zakharova told reporters. “At least six flights were organized, and each aircraft can hold up to 77.5 tons of weight, which comes to around 460 tons of weaponry in total.”
“We call for Western nations to stop their aggressive anti-Russian information campaign, their support for the militarization of Ukraine and its induction into NATO, and instead put their effort into convincing Kiev to fulfill the Minsk Agreements and other international necessities,” she went on.
On Tuesday, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Petrenko thanked Britain for its military assistance, saying that the supplies “will be used exclusively for defense purposes,” to protect troops and civilians against “any actions that could lead to escalation.”
Zakharova’s comments come as leaders from Ukraine and other Western nations continue to voice fears about the prospect of Russia ordering an invasion of its neighbor, which the Kremlin has repeatedly insisted amount to nothing more than “hysteria.”
Moscow, meanwhile, has asked for written agreements that NATO will not expand into Ukraine, and has blamed Kiev for failing to abide by the Minsk Protocols, penned in 2014, which were meant to put an end to conflict in the nation’s Donbass region, but have not come into effect.
Russia held talks last week with the US, NATO, and the OSCE, in what it described as an attempt to defuse tensions, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is set to meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Geneva on Friday to discuss further steps toward de-escalation. A draft treaty presented by Moscow would see NATO promise not to grant Kiev’s requests for membership, which the bloc’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, has said would be an unacceptable concession.