Russia comments on long-range missile deliveries to Ukraine

Russia’s foreign minister says the longer the range of Kiev’s missiles, the further Moscow will push hostile forces back

Russia has responded to Western powers’ planned delivery of long-range missile systems to Ukraine, by pledging to expand Moscow’s list of military targets.

“The longer the range of the missiles being delivered to the Kiev regime, the farther we will push the Nazis away from the line where there is a threat to the Russian population in both Ukraine and Russia,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a press conference on Monday.

The diplomat added that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s promises not to use American rockets to strike Russian territory are “babble” that cannot be taken seriously, noting that even politicians and lawmakers in Ukraine are “simply laughing at the Americans who said that they believe Zelensky.”

Last week the US announced it would supply Kiev with M142 HIMARS rocket systems, but only on the condition that they would not be used to strike Russian territory. Zelensky publicly accepted those terms, however several Ukrainian politicians, as well as the newly appointed US ambassador to Kiev, later contradicted the president’s pledge, stating that Ukrainian soldiers were free to choose their targets, including those in Crimea. 

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A Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) is seen after a live fire event by the US Army Europe’s 41st Field Artillery Brigade at a military training area on March 4, 2020, Grafenwoehr, Germany
UK to supply long-range missiles to Ukraine

The UK plans to deliver several US-made M270 multiple-launch rocket systems to Kiev, with British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announcing the move on Monday. The BBC has reported that the same target restrictions would apply to those systems.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded to the upcoming deliveries by saying Western-supplied rocket systems are unlikely to tip the balance in Ukraine’s favor, calling them “nothing new.” However, he warned Kiev that if it does receive longer-range missiles, then Russia will carry out strikes on “targets that we have not yet struck.”

The Russian president reiterated Moscow’s long-standing position that Western arms shipments to Ukraine only serve to prolong the conflict.

Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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