Kremlin 'Concerned' by 'Extremely Dangerous' Prospect of Delivery of Stingers to Ukraine
10:27 GMT 18.01.2022 (Updated: 13:17 GMT 18.01.2022)
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British defence chief Ben Wallace announced Monday that London is supplying Kiev with weapons for "self-defence" and small numbers of trainers to teach the Ukrainian army how to use them. US officials and lawmakers, meanwhile, have warned that they would back a Ukrainian "insurgency" with anti-armour and anti-air weapons if Russia invaded.
Russia is concerned by the "extremely dangerous" statements coming out of London and Washington regarding new weapons deliveries to Ukraine, and believes such steps will only serve to increase regional tensions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov has said.
"All of this is in line with our concerns in connection to the exploitation of Ukrainian territory by various weapons suppliers, with these weapons often being not just defensive, but offensive in nature. Especially here, [where] Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS) were mentioned. The flow of MANPADS is a separate issue regulated by international law," Peskov said, speaking to reporters on Tuesday.
"This is extremely dangerous and does not help reduce tensions," the spokesman added.
West Ready to Fight Russia to the Last Ukrainian
Peskov's comments came after a warning from a bipartisan group of US lawmakers Monday that the United States might send Javelin anti-tank missiles, Stinger anti-air missiles, small arms and boats to Ukraine in the event of a Russian "invasion" of the country.
"I think Vladimir Putin has made the biggest mistake of his career in underestimating how courageously the people of Ukraine will fight him if he invades," Senator Richard Blumenthal told reporters after a meeting between a congressional delegation and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"We will impose crippling economic sanctions, but more important we will give the people of Ukraine the arms, lethal arms they need to defend their lives and livelihoods," the senator said.
"And so our message is: there will be consequences if he chooses to violate the sanctity of this democracy," Senator Amy Klobuchar said.
Also on Monday, British Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace told parliament that the UK was already supplying Ukraine additional "short range" "light armour defensive" weapons and training for "self-defence" against Russia, plus a "small number" of troops who would provide training to the Ukrainian army in their use.
"I have to be honest here, Russia has the biggest armed forces in Europe. Ukraine is not a member of NATO and I think it would be false hope to say that the British armed forces would be going unilaterally to Ukraine to join forces alongside Ukrainians in that environment, which is why we are putting all the effort in helping Ukraine help themselves, sanctions packages and diplomatic efforts," Wallace added.
The United States and its allies have already delivered billions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine, with Washington alone contributing about $400 million in 2021 alone. Total US outlays have topped $2.5 billion since 2014, and have included 'non-lethal' items, such as Humvees and artillery-locating mobile radar, as well as lethal systems like US-made sniper rifles and Javelin anti-tank missiles. NATO allies have provided hundreds of millions of dollars more, including Turkish Bayraktar drones, British-made Saxon armoured command centers, Czech 152mm howitzers, and Italian and German engineering and medevac vehicles.
Late last year, Berlin vetoed a delivery of anti-drone rifles and anti-drone sniper systems to Ukraine, prompting Kiev authorities to try to guilt-trip Germany into lifting the veto by recalling the country's Nazi past.
The Ukraine crisis began in 2014, when US and European Union-backed forces toppled the unpopular but democratically elected government in Kiev in a coup, prompting Crimea to break off and rejoin Russia, and sparking a civil war in Ukraine's Donbass region. The West blamed Moscow for the crisis.
In the spring of 2021 and then again in the fall and winter of 2021-2022, Western officials and media accused Russia of a troop buildup on the border with Ukraine, ostensibly in preparation for an invasion. Russia has vocally denied these claims, accusing the West of artificially ratcheting up tensions and possibly egging on Kiev to try to resolve the conflict in the Donbass by force.
Moscow has proposed several measures it says could defuse the crisis - including the implementation by Kiev of the political portion of the Minsk Peace Agreements - the 2015 deal aimed at ending the Donbass crisis. Additionally, the Russian Foreign Ministry published two security proposals in mid-December urging the US and NATO to halt the bloc's eastward expansion, and proposing a number of measures, including legally-binding limitations on the deployment of troops, missile systems, aircraft and warships in areas where they could be considered a threat to the other party. Russia believes that these proposals, if implemented, could permanently resolve the security crisis in Eastern Europe.