Russia warns West of ‘extremely dangerous’ tank supplies to Ukraine

Russian ambassadors, Kremlin officials and state media pundits have accused the West of a “blatant provocation” against their nation as the US and Germany spearheaded a major wave of military support to Ukraine on Wednesday. US President Biden, in his latest announcement of the new tranche of heavy battle tanks to be sent to Kyiv, said Vladimir Putin had failed to anticipate the “united” front of the West in the face of their full-scale invasion, and the response from Russia appears to indicate their infatuation with the move.

US President Biden, flanked by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, today announced that a battalion of Abrams M1 tanks would be sent to Ukraine, putting an end to the unanswered calls of Ukrainian officials for months for more offensive military equipment.

In the same breath, however, Mr Biden emphasised that the new support was not meant to expand the war into Russia.

“It is not an offensive threat to Russia,” he said. “There is no offensive threat to Russia. If Russian troops return to Russia, where they belong, this war would be over today.”

Nonetheless, Russia’s reaction on Tuesday night and into Wednesday that the US, as well as Germany, were going to announce that they were sending their heavy battle tanks into Ukraine was vociferous.

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Russian ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said on Tuesday evening: “If the United States decides to supply tanks, it will be impossible to justify such a step using arguments about ‘defensive weapons’.

“This would be another blatant provocation against the Russian Federation. No one should have illusions about who is the real aggressor in the current conflict.”

He added that the American tanks “without any doubt will be destroyed, as with all other samples of NATO military equipment”. These claims were echoed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said the tanks would “burn just like all the others”.

Speaking after the announcement from Berlin on Wednesday afternoon, Russian Ambassador to Germany Sergey Nechaev accused Chancellor Scholz of an “extremely dangerous decision” that will escalate the conflict to a “new level of confrontation”.

He said: “We are convinced that Germany, like its closest allies, is not interested in a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis; it is set up for its permanent escalation and unlimited pumping of the Kyiv regime with more and more deadly weapons.

“It destroys the remnants of mutual trust, causes irreparable damage to the already deplorable state of Russian-German relations, and casts doubt on the possibility of their normalisation in the foreseeable future.”

Putin’s state media puppets went further in their warnings against the West, with propagandist Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Moscow Institute of the Middle East, telling one channel that Russia should now look to send nuclear weapons into Germany.

He said: “To me this is a signal that the Reichstag, or Bundestag, which now replaces the Reichstag, simply should not remain standing any longer. Flat, slightly radioactive, melted-down ground [will remain in its place].”

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Putin is expected to announce a new mobilisation of forces in spring in time for a major offensive, and while Wednesday’s western pledges could prove a turning point in the war, Ukrainian officials say more tanks must be sent.

Speaking after Mr Biden’s announcement, Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration, wrote on Telegram: “The main thing is that this is only the beginning. We need hundreds of tanks.

“And if they are needed, we will have them. A historic day. One of those days that will determine our future victory. We will get all our territories back.”

He added: “A few hundred tanks for our tank crews… This is what is going to become a real punching fist of democracy.”

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