THE WASHINGTON POST – A Russia sent this week a formal diplomatic note to the U.S warning that sending remittances from the country and nato of “more sensitive” weapons systems for the Ukraine were “adding fuel” to the conflict and could bring “unpredictable consequences”.
The diplomatic diligence, a copy of which was reviewed by the The Washington Postoccurred when the president Joe Biden approved a dramatic expansion in the scope of weapons supplied to Ukraine, an $800 million packageincluding 155mm howitzers – a serious upgrade to long-range artillery – coastal defense drones and armored vehicles, as well as additional portable anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition.
The United States also facilitated the deployment of long-range air defense systems to Ukraine, including Slovakia of Russian-made Soviet-era S-300 launchers on which Ukrainian forces have already been trained. In return, the government announced last week, the United States is deploying a Patriot missile system in Slovakia and consulting the country on a long-term replacement.
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The shipment of the weapons, the first wave of which US officials said would reach Ukraine in a few days, follows an urgent appeal from the Ukrainian president. Volodmyr Zelenskyas Russian forces would be mobilizing for a major attack on the region of Donbasin eastern Ukraine, and along the coastal strip that connects it with the Crimea occupied by the Russians in the south.
Russian troops withdrew in much of the northern part of the country, including around the capital Kiev, after humiliating defeats by the Ukrainian military and local resistance forces.
“What the Russians are telling us privately is precisely what we have been telling the world publicly – that the massive amount of assistance we are providing to our Ukrainian partners is proving extraordinarily effective,” said a senior government official, who spoke about the condition of anonymity on the sensitive diplomatic document.
THE State Department declined to comment on the contents of the two-page diplomatic note or any US response.
Russian experts have suggested that Moscow, which has labeled incoming arms convoys as legitimate military targets but has so far not attacked them, may be preparing to do so.
“They are targeting supply depots in Ukraine itself, where some of those supplies were stored,” said George Beebe, a former director of Russia analysis at the CIA and a Russian adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney. “The real question is whether they go beyond trying to achieve [as armas] on Ukrainian territory, they try to hit the supply convoys themselves and perhaps the NATO countries on the Ukrainian periphery” that serve as transfer points for US supplies.
If Russian forces stumble in the next phase of the war as they did in the first, “then I think the chances of Russia targeting NATO supplies at NATO territory go up considerably,” Beebe said. “Many of us in the West assumed that we could supply the Ukrainians with weapons without limits and not run a significant risk of retaliation from Russia,” he said. “I think the Russians want to send a message here that this is not true.”
The diplomatic note was dated Tuesday, when it first leaked the new weapons package that raised the total value of US military aid provided to Ukraine since the Feb. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
The document, entitled “On Russian Concerns in the Context of Massive Supply of Arms and Military Equipment to the Kiev Regime,” written in Russian with translation provided, was forwarded to the State Department by the Russian Embassy in Washington.
The Russian Embassy did not respond to requests for comment.
Among the items Russia identified as “most sensitive” were “multiple-launch rocket systems,” although the United States and its NATO allies are believed not to have supplied these weapons to Ukraine. Russia accused the allies of violating “strict principles” governing the transfer of weapons to conflict zones and of ignoring “the threat of high-precision weapons falling into the hands of radical nationalist, extremist and bandit forces in Ukraine”.
He accused NATO of trying to pressure Ukraine to “abandon” negotiations, so far unsuccessful, with Russia “to continue the bloodshed”. Washington, he said, was pressuring other countries to stop any military and technical cooperation with Russia, and those with Soviet-era weapons to transfer them to Ukraine.
“We urge the United States and its allies to stop the irresponsible militarization of Ukraine, which entails unpredictable consequences for regional and international security,” the statement said.
Putin says peace talks with Ukraine are at ‘stalemate’
Andrew Weiss, former director of the National Security Council for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs and now vice president of studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, recalled that the Russian president Vladimir Putinin a speech on the February morning that the invasion began, warned that Western nations would face “consequences greater than any they have faced in history” if they became involved in the conflict.
Attention at the time focused on Putin’s reminder that Russia has a powerful nuclear arsenal, Weiss said, but it was also “a very explicit warning about not sending weapons into a conflict zone.” Having drawn a red line, he asked, are the Russians “now inclined to support this?”
Such an attack would be “a very important escalation move, first and foremost because it poses a threat to the West if they are not able to maintain the flow of supplies to Ukraine, which by extension could diminish Ukraine’s self-defense capability.” ”. That risk “should not be minimized,” he said, noting the added risk that an attempt to attack a convoy inside Ukraine could go wrong at the border with NATO territory.
US defense officials remain concerned about the possibility of such attacks. “We do not take any movement of weapons and systems entering Ukraine for granted,” Kirby said Thursday. “Not on any given day.”
Kirby said Ukrainian troops take the weapons to Ukraine after the United States takes them to the region, and “the less we talk about it, the better.”