Amid reports of Ukrainian success on the war front, Russia has warned the U.S. against sending longer-range missiles to Kyiv, saying Washington’s decision to do so would mean crossing the “red line” making it “a party to the conflict” in Ukraine and that Moscow would be forced to react “appropriately.”
“Should Washington decide to supply longer-range missiles to Kyiv, by doing so it will cross a red line and become a direct party to the conflict. Under such a scenario, we will be forced to respond appropriately,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said at a news briefing on Thursday.
This warning from Russia comes amid reports that Ukraine has made a major request for weapons from the U.S. and Western allies, in order to press its offensive against Russian forces into 2023. This request from Ukraine includes a demand for a long-range army tactical missile system or ATACMS.
“Possible supplies of missiles to the Kyiv regime are identical to a situation in which European countries might host US-made ground-launched missiles, previously banned under the treaty on intermediate and shorter-range missiles, capable of hitting targets on Russian territory,” the Russian foreign ministry spokeswomen added.
The ATACMS tactical missiles, that Kyiv has been asking for, is a short-range ballistic missile with a range of up to 300 km (186 miles) that can be fired from HIMARS launchers, as well as from other multiple-launch rocket systems Ukraine has received from the United Kingdom and Germany.
Presently, the U.S. only supplies Ukraine with advanced guided multiple launch rocket system (GMLRS) rockets, that are fired from HIMARS launchers and can hit targets up to 80 km (50 miles) which the Ukrainian forces have been using to great effect.
Meanwhile, a report in CNN said the Biden administration is unlikely to offer longer-range systems to Ukraine for now.
Although Ukraine has promised not to use the U.S. rockets to strike targets inside Russian territory; there has been no explanation for an attack on Aug. 9 that hit a Russian air base at Saky in Crimea which lies around 200 km (124 miles) from the nearest Ukrainian-controlled territory. The Defense Department had denied that American-supplied weapons were not used for the attack on the air base.
Ukrainian General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi recently acknowledged for the first time that Ukraine was responsible for a series of strikes on Russian air bases in Crimea, leading to fears that Russia could resort to using tactical nukes. Annexed in 2014, Russia considered Crimea to be its territory.
In a defense department press release issued Thursday, the U.S. announced $600mn in additional security assistance for Ukraine to meet the country’s critical security and defense needs. The package announced Thursday includes additional ammunition for HIMARS.
“In total, the United States has committed approximately $15.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration. Since 2014, the United States has committed approximately $17.9 billion in security assistance to Ukraine and more than $15.1 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion on Feb. 24,” the release added.