Reacting to news reports that the US is planning to send long-range rocket systems to Ukraine, a top Russian diplomat on Saturday called for an “end to the senseless and extremely risky pumping of weapons into the country.”
On Friday, news outlets reported that the Biden administration is expected to send multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) to the Eastern European nation. Ukrainian officials have requested the weapons to attack Russians at longer ranges and threaten Russian logistics hubs and routes to slow their offensive in the Donbas region.
In a post on Telegram on Saturday, Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said the Biden administration “may give Kyiv HIMARS MLRS and M270 MLRS, which will be equipped with M31 GMLRS guided missiles.”
“There is a risk that such equipment will be placed near Russia’s borders and Ukrainians will be able to strike at Russian cities. Such a situation is unacceptable and intolerable for us,” he said, according to Ukrainian Pravda.
In an interview this week, Oleksandr Merezhko, chair of the Ukrainian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told Newsweek that Russia “is now using artillery extensively and ruthlessly. “
“To counter this, to save the lives of our servicemen and civilians, we need MLRS,” he added.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the Biden administration is expected to announce its decision to send the weapons to Ukraine next week. Asked about whether a decision on the rocket systems had bee made, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Friday that officials “are still working through what the next drawdown package is going to look like.”
In response to a request for comment on Saturday, the U.S. Department of Defense referred Newsweek to comments made by Kirby at Friday’s news conference.
When asked about the MLRS weapons by a reporter, Kirby said: “Certainly, we’re mindful and aware of the Ukrainian asks, privately and publicly, for what is known as a multiple-launch rocket system.”
“I will not get ahead of decisions. I’ve never done that since we’ve been starting to do these drawdown authority packages, but I can assure you that we are in constant communication with them, and we’m still committed to helping them succeed on the battlefield, and to succeed specifically in the fight they’re in, “he added.
Antonov said Saturday that Russia hopes “that common sense will prevail, and Washington will not take such a provocative step.”
“We are calling for an end to the senseless and extremely risky pumping of weapons into the country. It is important to refrain from threats against us and claims of a military victory for Ukraine,” the ambassador said, according to Ukrayinksa Pravda.
Meanwhile, an anchor on a Kremlin propaganda TV channel recently warned that the US would face a “harsh response” if it supplied Ukraine with the long-range rocket systems.