The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control said the responsibility for an escalation in the conflict that would result from lethal arms supplies “would fall not only on Kiev, but on Washington as well.”
Mikhail Ulyanov said, “The masterminds of the plan to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, apparently, proceed from the assumption that the situation in the east of this country isn’t explosive enough already and that it’s needed to add fuel to the fire.”
Citing American officials, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the US State Department and the Pentagon had prepared a plan to supply Kiev with “lethal defensive weapons” and are seeking White House approval.
The Journal wrote that US military officials say the arms, including antitank missiles and other weaponry, are meant to deter “aggressive actions” by Russia.
Ulyanov, the Russian official, said that “references to the fact that the talk is only about the supply of weapons of a defensive nature don’t change the essence of the matter.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also warned about the move, saying all countries, “especially those that are looking to be part of the settlement [of the Ukrainian conflict], must avoid any sort of actions which can provoke another spike in tensions in the already difficult region.”
Moscow has several times warned Washington against supplying Kiev with lethal weapons.
The government in Kiev has been engaged in an armed conflict with pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine since 2014. It has repeatedly requested more advanced weaponry from the US.
The administration of former US president Barack Obama had refused to supply it with lethal weaponry and instead provided Kiev with $600 million in military assistance, including training, equipment, and advice.
In September 2016, the US House of Representatives approved legislation to allow the supply of lethal “defensive” arms to Kiev. That legislation needs to be approved by the US Senate and signed by the US president to become law.