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12 Mar, 2022 14:26

Russia issues convoy warning to West

The ‘mindless’ handover of weapons to Kiev makes them ‘legitimate targets,’ Moscow said
Russia issues convoy warning to West

Supplying Ukraine with Western arms only serves to worsen the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Saturday, warning that Russian forces could potentially target such deliveries.

“We have warned the US that pumping up Ukraine with arms from several nations orchestrated by [Washington] is not just a dangerous move but something that makes these [arms] convoys legitimate targets,” Ryabkov told Russia’s Channel One. He did not elaborate on where and when Russia might target the convoys.

Ryabkov also warned that the “mindless handover” of “dangerous arms” like portable air-defense and anti-tank missiles poses a threat to Western nations themselves. 

Earlier this week, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also expressed concerns over such weapons getting “into the wrong hands” after the conflict ends. Portable air-defense missiles could pose a particular risk to civil aviation in the skies over Ukraine or Europe for years to come, he added. 

On Saturday, Ryabkov said that supplying arms to Ukraine makes Washington’s negotiating position weaker in its relations with Moscow. All the US calls for the end of the conflict “are not perceived as serious signals,” he said, adding that a “policy of escalation” now “absolutely dominates” Washington’s agenda, despite mantras about taking a measured approach.

“It is the US that is the major source of international tension,” the deputy foreign minister said, slamming America’s “material support for the criminal regime in Kiev.” 

The statements come amid Russia’s ongoing military offensive in Ukraine.

Moscow has accused Kiev of failing to implement the Minsk agreements to resolve its conflict with what were then two secessionist regions in Donbass, in Ukraine’s east. 

Russia launched its operation on February 24, arguing it was aimed at “demilitarizing” Ukraine in the name of protecting the people of the Donbass republics, which Russia now recognizes as independent. 

Kiev has blasted Russia’s operation as a totally unprovoked aggression and approached the US and its allies for aid. President Volodymyr Zelensky has requested military aircraft that Ukrainian pilots can fly, as well as other weapons. 

Western nations have collectively condemned Moscow’s military action, has slapped Russia with unprecedented sanctions and has promised generous military aid to Ukraine. The US alone authorized a shipment of $350 million in military aid to Ukraine last month. Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia also promised weapons to Kiev, including anti-tank missiles and self-propelled howitzers.