Russia: US air defense systems could be targets in Ukraine

Russia’s foreign ministry warned on Thursday that if the United States delivers sophisticated air defense systems to Ukraine, the systems and any crews accompanying them would become a “legitimate target” for the Russian military, a threat that was quickly dismissed. rejected by Washington.

The exchange of statements reflected rising tensions between Russia and the United States amid fighting in Ukraine, now in its 10th month.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the US had “effectively become a warring party” by arming and training Ukraine. She added that reports of US intentions to provide Kiev with the Patriot surface-to-air missile system If true, it would be “another provocative step” by the US and expand its involvement in hostilities “with potential consequences”.

“Any weapons systems supplied to Ukraine, including the Patriot, along with the personnel servicing them, have been and will remain legitimate priority targets for the Russian Armed Forces,” Zakharova said.

Asked about the Russian warning, Pentagon spokesman Air Force Gen. Pat Ryder said the United States “does not intend to allow Russian comments to dictate the security assistance we provide to Ukraine.”

“I find it ironic and very telling that officials from a country that brutally attacked its neighbor – in an illegal and unprovoked invasion in a campaign that deliberately targets and kills innocent civilians and destroys civilian infrastructure – that they chose to use words like ‘provocative’ describing defensive systems designed to save lives and protect civilians,” Ryder said.

U.S. officials said Tuesday that Washington is ready to approve the shipment of the Patriot missile battery Ukraine, finally agreeing to an urgent plea from Ukrainian leaders eager for stronger weapons to shoot down incoming Russian missiles that have damaged much of the country’s vital infrastructure. An official announcement is expected soon.

Also Read :  Russian missile strikes on Ukraine kill one person in Kyiv

As many as 90 soldiers are required to operate and maintain a Patriot batteryThe U.S. has been reluctant to provide the sophisticated systems for months because President Joe Biden’s administration failed to send American forces to Ukraine to operate them.

Even without the presence of the U.S. military to train the Ukrainians to use the system, concerns remain that deploying the missiles could provoke Russia or risk that a launched projectile could hit inside Russia and further escalate the conflict.

Russia has repeatedly claimed that its forces have struck Western-supplied weapons in Ukraine, but these claims could not be verified.

Ukraine has so far reacted cautiously to the reports.

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar told reporters in Kiev on Thursday that the delivery of such weapons remains “sensitive not only for Ukraine, but also for our partners” and that only President Volodymyr Zelensky or Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov would announce such a deal.

White House and Pentagon leaders have consistently said that providing additional air defenses to Ukraine is a priority, and Patriot missiles have been under consideration for some time. As winter approaches and Russia’s bombing of civilian infrastructure increases, the idea has become a higher priority, officials said.

Until now, the US and other NATO allies have provided Ukraine with short- and medium-range air defense systems that can shoot down Russian planes and drones, but not ballistic and cruise missiles.

Ukraine’s electricity supplier said on Thursday that the country’s power system had a “significant power deficit” and that some areas had experienced emergency shutdowns with temperatures hovering around freezing or below zero.

Also Read :  Biden says no F-16s for Ukraine as Russia claims gains

State grid operator Ukrenergo warned in a Facebook post that severe weather, including snow, ice and strong winds, exacerbated the damage caused by Russian attacks on energy infrastructure.

The city of Kherson in the south of Ukraine was completely without electricity after the Russian shelling, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the office of the President of Ukraine, wrote in a telegram. He added that two people were killed in the attacks.

The city’s Korabelno district was still under heavy shelling in the afternoon, with Russian shells hitting within 100 meters (yards) of the regional administration building, he said.

Across the country, infrastructure attacks and power outages killed seven civilians and wounded 19 on Wednesday and Thursday, according to a report released by the office of the Ukrainian president.

Pavlo Kirylenko, head of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk province, said two civilians had been killed and seven wounded in Russian airstrikes the previous day.

The Kremlin-backed government in the region, which was illegally annexed by Moscow in September, announced that Russia had taken 80% control of the city of Marinka, a move crucial to Ukraine’s hopes of recapturing the Russian-held regional capital of Donetsk.

The Moscow-based mayor of Donetsk, Alexei Kulemzin, said on Thursday that the city center had suffered the “biggest blow” since the 2014 uprising. Russian-backed separatists began to control the territory.

Writing in the Telegram, Kulemzin said 40 Ukrainian missiles hit Donetsk on Thursday morning, noting that high-rise residential buildings were hit and fires broke out at a hospital and a university campus.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian forces shelled Russia’s western Kursk province, regional governor Roman Starovoitas said. Six shells reportedly hit a farm in the Belovsky district of the province, which borders Ukraine’s Sumy province. There were no casualties, Starovoyt wrote in a telegram.

Also Read :  Ukraine battles to restore power as millions face blackouts | Russia-Ukraine war News

Other Thursday developments:

– The European Union has announced that it has approved a new package of sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on Russia over the war. The package was approved after several days of deliberations at a meeting of ambassadors of the 27-nation bloc.

— Russia continued to increase its military presence in Belarus, a senior Ukrainian military official said. According to Brig. General Oleksiy Khromov, Russian units in Belarus “conduct training and combat coordination”, with the Kremlin using Belarusian officers and training grounds to improve the combat capabilities of existing units, as well as to train newly created units.

Speaking at a press conference, Khromov said the likelihood of a Russian attack from Belarus “remains low,” but he stressed that Russian weapons, including three hypersonic missile-carrying aircraft, a fleet of tanks and a long-haul transport, were still on their way to Belarus. – long-range radar detection aircraft.

– Russia’s foreign ministry said the Vatican has apologized for Pope Francis’ statement in a recent interview in which he singled out two Russian ethnic minorities, the Chechens and Buryats, as the “brutal” participants in the war in Ukraine.

During the briefing, Zakharova quoted what she said was a Vatican statement “apologising to the Russian side” for the pope’s comments. Zakharova praised the news, saying it showed the Vatican’s “ability to engage in dialogue and listen to interlocutors”. A Vatican spokesman said only that diplomatic contacts were being maintained on the matter.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Back to top button