MOSCOW (AP) — A senior Russian diplomat sternly warned Washington Friday against supplying long-range weapons to Ukraine, noting that the U.S. is balancing on the edge of direct involvement in the conflict.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also pointed to the country's military doctrine that envisages the use of nuclear weapons in case of a threat to the existence of the Russian state.
“We have repeatedly warned the U.S. about the consequences that may follow if the U.S. continues to flood Ukraine with weapons," Ryabkov said. “It effectively puts itself in a state close to what can be described as a party to the conflict.”
Speaking on state television, Ryabkov warned that ”a very narrow margin that separates the U.S. from becoming a party to the conflict mustn't create an illusion for rabid anti-Russian forces that everything will remain as it is if they cross it.”
He emphasized that Russia will push its offensive in Ukraine until it reaches its aims.
“Russia is capable of fully defending its interests, and the goals of the special military operation will be fully achieved,” Ryabkov said.
He pointed out that Russia’s military doctrine stipulates that it could use nuclear weapons in case of aggression against Russia and its allies involving mass destruction weapons, or an aggression involving conventional weapons that threatens the very existence of the Russian state.
Supplies of the U.S. HIMARS multiple rocket launchers strengthened the strike capability of the Ukrainian army, which has used them to hit key infrastructure facilities and other targets. The truck-mounted systems fire GPS-guided missiles capable of reaching targets up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) away.
U.S. authorities so far have refrained from providing Ukraine with longer range missiles for HIMARS launchers that can reach targets up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) and could potentially allow the Ukrainian military to hit areas deep inside Russia.
“We are warning the U.S. against making provocative steps, such as deliveries of longer-range and more devastating weapons,” Ryabkov said. “It's a road to nowhere fraught with grave consequences, the responsibility for which will lie entirely with Washington.”
Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press