A Russian official warns the West of destruction because of the arming of Ukraine

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — The speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament warned on Sunday that countries that supply Ukraine with more powerful weapons risked its destruction, a message that came after new pledges of armored vehicles, air defense systems and other equipment but not battle tanks Kyiv requested.

Supporters of Ukraine pledged billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine during a meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday, though the new commitments were overshadowed by the failure. Ukraine’s urgent request for German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks has been approved.

State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that governments that give more powerful weapons to Ukraine could cause “a global tragedy that will destroy their country”.

“Supplying offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime will lead to a global catastrophe,” he said. “If Washington and NATO supply weapons that can be used to strike at peaceful cities and make attempts to seize our lands as they threaten to do, they will retaliate with more powerful weapons.”

Germany is a major arms donor to Ukraine and has ordered a review of its Leopard 2 stockpiles in preparation for a possible green light. Yet the government in Berlin has shown caution at every step to increase its commitments to Ukraine, a reluctance seen as rooted in its history. and political culture.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday that he does not rule out sending Leclerc battle tanks to Ukraine and asked his defense minister to “work on” the idea.

Macron spoke during a press conference he held in Paris with German Chancellor Olaf Schultz on the occasion of their countries’ celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship that followed World War II. In a joint declaration, France and Germany committed their “unwavering support” to Ukraine.

Macron said France would base its decision on tanks on three criteria: that sharing equipment does not lead to an escalation of the conflict, that it will provide effective and workable assistance when training time is taken into account, and that it will not escalate the conflict. Weakening of the French army.

Schulz did not respond when asked about the Leopard 2 tanks on Sunday, but stressed that his country has already made significant military contributions to Ukraine.

“The United States is doing a lot, Germany is doing a lot too,” he said. “We have continually expanded our shipments with highly effective weapons already available today. And we have always coordinated all of these decisions closely with our important allies and friends.”

Germany’s hesitant indecisiveness has drawn criticism, particularly from Poland and the Baltic states, nations on NATO’s eastern side that feel particularly threatened by renewed Russian aggression.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that if Germany does not agree to transfer Leopard tanks to Ukraine, his country is ready to build a “smaller coalition” of countries that might send theirs anyway.

“Almost a year has passed since the war broke out,” Morawiecki said in an interview with the official Polish news agency PNA published on Sunday. Evidence of war crimes committed by the Russian military can be seen on television and on YouTube. What more does Germany need to open its eyes and start working in line with the potential of the German state? ”

In Washington, two top lawmakers urged the United States on Sunday to send some Abrams tanks to Ukraine in order to overcome Germany’s reluctance to share its more suitable tanks.

“If we announce we’re going to give an Abrams tank, just one, that will trigger an influx of tanks from Germany,” Rep. Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on ABC’s “This Week on Sunday.” “What I’m hearing is that Germany is waiting for us to take the lead.”

Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has also spoken out about the US sending Abrams.

“If it takes some Abrams tanks to open up the acquisition of Leopard tanks from Germany, Poland and other allies, I would support that,” Kunz said.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said the US-led meeting at the air base in Germany “leaves no doubt that our enemies will try to exhaust us or better destroy us,” adding that “they have sufficient weapons” to achieve the purpose.

Medvedev, the former Russian president, warned on his messaging app channel that “in the event of a protracted conflict,” Russia could seek to form a military alliance with “countries that are fed up with Americans and their pack of neutered dogs.”

Ukraine is asking for more weapons as it expects Russian forces to launch a new offensive in the spring.

Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, warned that Russia may try to intensify its attacks in the south and east and cut off Western arms supply channels, while conquering Kyiv remains the “main dream” under President Vladimir Putin. “Illusions,” he said.

In a column published by the online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda. He described the Kremlin’s goal in the conflict as “total and utter genocide, a war of total destruction”.

Among those calling for more arms for Ukraine is the former British prime minister, Boris Johnson, who made a surprise trip to Ukraine on Sunday. Johnson, who was photographed in the Kyiv region town of Borodinka, said he had traveled to Ukraine at the invitation of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“This is a moment to double down and give Ukrainians all the tools they need to finish the job. The sooner Putin fails, the better for Ukraine and the world at large,” Johnson said in a statement.

The past week has been particularly tragic For Ukraine even by the standards of a brutal war that has lasted for nearly a year, killed tens of thousands of people, uprooted millions more, and created widespread devastation for Ukrainian cities.

A barrage of Russian missiles hit an apartment complex in the southeastern city of Dnipro on January 14, killing at least 45 civilians. On Wednesday, a government helicopter crashed into a kindergarten building in a suburb of Kyiv. Ukraine’s interior minister, other officials and a child on the ground were among the 14 dead.

Zelensky vowed on Sunday that Ukraine would eventually win the war.

“We are united because we are strong. We are strong because we are united,” the Ukrainian leader said in a video address as he celebrated Ukrainian Unity Day, which commemorates the union of East and West Ukraine in 1919.


Sylvie Courbet in Paris contributed.


Follow AP coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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