Russia respond on US and German decision sending Tanks to Ukraine
The United States said on Wednesday it would supply 31 of its latest battle tanks to Ukraine, after Germany announced similar action, steps Kyiv hailed as a potential turning point in its fight against a Russian invasion.
The US decision to agree to send M1 Abram tanks to Ukraine helped overcome a diplomatic impasse with Germany over how best to help Kyiv in its war with Russia.
Hours ago, Moscow denounced Berlin’s decision to provide Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev, describing it as a dangerous provocation.
The head of the Duma Committee on International Affairs, Leonid Slutsky, also stated that the American tank battalion will not help Zelensky to seize Crimea or change the course of the Russian special operation.
Slutsky said, “The American tank battalion won’t help Zelensky change the status of Crimea or change the course of the special military operation… Any attempt to seize the peninsula will receive a harsh response, and I’m sure that the Russian attack won’t be stopped by another supply of Western weapons”.
He also indicated that all American or German tanks would become legitimate targets for the Russian army.
He said, “The West, in fact, is waging a military confrontation against Russia from the Ukrainian lands with the hands of the bloody Kyiv regime”.
Russia had previously sent a memorandum to the NATO countries because of the supply of weapons to Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov indicated that any shipment containing weapons to Ukraine would become a legitimate target for the Russian forces.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also stated that NATO countries are playing with fire by supplying weapons to Ukraine.
The press secretary of the Russian President, Dmitry Peskov, indicated that pumping Ukraine with weapons from the West does not contribute to the success of the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations and will have a negative impact.
Washington was afraid of the idea of sending the difficult-to-maintain Abram tanks to Ukraine, but it had to change its position to persuade Germany to send the easy-to-operate Leopard 2 tanks to Ukrainian territory, which is the most used tank in the armies of NATO countries.
President Joe Biden announced the US decision in remarks at the White House, saying the tanks were needed to help the Ukrainians improve their ability to maneuver in open terrain.
A Biden administration official said he expected more announcements from US allies about other armored vehicles for Ukraine, and several European members of the alliance have indicated they will also be involved in sending Leopard tanks.
Kyiv has been calling for months for Western battle tanks that would enhance the capacity of its forces, give them protection and help them penetrate the Russian front lines and restore occupied lands.
Senior Biden administration officials said it would take a few months for Abrams to be extradited and described the move as providing Ukraine with a long-term defense.
“There is no offensive threat to Russia itself,” Biden said.
Moscow is increasingly portraying the war as a fraught confrontation between Russia and the US-led NATO alliance.
Sending tanks into Ukraine would break one of the last taboos in Western support for Ukraine against Russia’s nearly year-old invasion: supplying offensive, not defensive, weapons to Kyiv.
The West remained reluctant to send heavy offensive weapons to Kyiv for fear of provoking Russia, which is a nuclear power.
Russia expressed outrage at Germany’s decision, saying Berlin was renouncing its historic responsibility towards Russia stemming from Nazi crimes in World War Two when Hitler’s forces invaded the Soviet Union.
“This extremely serious decision takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation,” the Russian Ambassador to Germany Sergei Nechaev said.
Nechaev added that “It would cause irreparable damage to the already deplorable state of Russian-German relations”.
Commitments to Ukraine from other Leopard users, thousands of which Germany has made and exported to NATO allies, multiplied this week as the United States and Germany appeared to work out differences over their approach.
Finland and Norway announced that they would send Leopard tanks, and Poland, which had already sought Berlin’s approval, followed suit.
Spain and the Netherlands said they were studying the matter.
The UK provided a company of 14 tanks of its similar version of the tanks known as the Challenger, and France is considering sending its tanks known as the Leclerc.
Moscow says supplying modern offensive weapons to Ukraine will only delay what it says will be its inevitable victory.
Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to Washington, said the delivery of the American tanks would be another flagrant provocation.
In the 11 months since its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has killed thousands of civilians, driven millions from their homes and reduced entire cities to rubble.
Russia says its special military operation was necessary to stop a security threat emanating from Ukraine’s relations with the West, which it now portrays as seeking to destroy it.
Kyiv and its allies say Ukraine never threatened Russia and the invasion is a war of aggression to subjugate a neighbor and grab territory.