Moscow accuses Washington of deliberate escalation after offer of longer range missiles to Kiev as Russia’s winter offensive rolls on
The decision to supply Ukraine with longer-range missiles marks a “deliberate escalation” by the United States, Russia’s ambassador to Washington has said, warning that Moscow would not tolerate strikes on Russian cities.
In a statement on Friday evening, Ambassador Anatoly Antonov commented on the latest round of US military aid approved for Ukraine earlier in the day, which is set to include Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB) – munitions with an operational range of 93 miles (150 kilometers).
US-made GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs, a component of a new weapon system approved for Ukraine, are seen while being loaded on an F-22 Raptor. © US Air Force / Tech. Sgt. Dana Rosso
“Washington sees no boundaries in seeking to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. The transfer of increasingly powerful weapons to the Kiev regime is a deliberate escalation of the conflict by the United States,” he said, adding “Any attempt to harm the Russian Federation is doomed to failure. The sooner the United States realizes this, the sooner the current conflict will end.”
High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is in operation during military exercises at Spilve Airport in Riga, Latvia, September 26, 2022 © AP / Roman Koksarov
Though the Pentagon did not mention the GLSDB by name in announcing the weapons transfer, US Brigadier-General Patrick Ryder later confirmed that it would be included in the next round of aid, also noting that officials would not stop Kiev from using the missiles to strike inside Russia.
Fired from the US-supplied HIMARS missile launcher, the GLSDB is among the longest-range weapons authorized for Kiev to date, and could theoretically reach targets deep within Russian territory.
Antonov went on to say the United States is “de facto inciting its proteges to attack Russian regions,” arguing that Moscow makes no distinction between newer territories which voted to join the Russian Federation last year and other Russian lands.
“For us there is no difference when we talk about a possible attack by Kiev criminals on the Zaporozhye or Bryansk regions, the Crimea or the Smolensk region,” he continued.
Though the new weapons could take up to nine months to reach the Ukrainian battlefield, Russia has already suggested how it might react, with President Vladimir Putin ordering the military to eliminate “any possibility” of Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory earlier this week. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, said Russian forces would repel Ukrainian soldiers to a distance from which they would not pose a threat, declaring: “the longer range the weapons supplied to the Kiev regime have, the further the troops will need to be moved.”
Washington has authorized 31 separate arms transfers to Ukraine since the conflict erupted last year, worth a total of some $30 billion, including multi-launch rocket platforms, artillery pieces, drones, anti-tank and anti-aircraft munitions, armored vehicles and a Patriot missile defense battery, among other hardware. Despite Moscow’s repeated warnings that the weapons will only escalate hostilities and make a negotiated settlement impossible, US officials have said assistance to Kiev would continue for “as long as it takes.”
In an interview with Russian journalist Nadana Fridrikhson, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday that Washington’s decision to supply Ukraine with longer-range missiles and allow Kiev to use them at will can only lead to further escalation,
The result would be exactly the contrary. There would be no talks in such a case. There would only be retaliatory strikes,”he warned .
Medvedev insisted that if Washington wanted peace in Ukraine, it could simply urge Kiev to engage in talks with Moscow, but that US President Joe Biden’s administration and “hawks” in Congress are “simply not interested in it.”
Russia could “retaliate in any way possible” should Ukrainian forces strike targets in Crimea or deep inside Russian territory, the former president warned. “We do not set any limits depending on the nature of threats, and are ready to use all types of weapons,” he insisted, adding that Russia would only be guided by its own doctrines, including the nuclear protocol.
“I can assure you a response would be swift, hard and convincing.”
Medvedev also accused European leaders, who have been supporting Kiev through various means, including weapon shipments, of acting at the behest of Washington and to the detriment of their own people. The cost of sanctions, military aid to Ukraine, trade wars, and embargoes are borne by ordinary EU citizens, he added.
The Russian winter offensive continued with the RuMOD reporting that in the past 24 hours, Russian forces hit Ukrainian personnel and vehicles in 108 districts, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant- General Igor Konashenkov confirmed Saturday.
“The tactical aviation, rocket forces and artillery […] defeated to 92 Ukrainian artillery units on firing positions, as well as personnel and military vehicles in 108 districts,” Konashenkov said.
Russian Ground Forces in the Kupyansk direction pushed Ukrainian forces away from western outskirts of the settlement of Dvurechnoye, Kharkov Region, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov reported Saturday.
“Offensive action of the Western group of forces on Kupyansk direction pushed the enemy from western outskirts of the settlement of Dvurechnoye, Kharkov Region,” he said.
Konashenkov also noted that aviation and artillery defeated units of Ukraine’s 92nd Mechanized Brigade neat settlements of Krakhmalnoye and Berestovoye.
“Over 30 Ukrainian servicemen, two armored vehicles and three cars were eliminated,” he said.