Russia has issued its newest warning to the U.S. against sending longer-range missiles to Ukraine, saying that providing such weapons would cross its “red line.”
Speaking at a briefing Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova threatened that the U.S. could face consequences if it does not heed the warning, according to Russian state-owned news agency Ria Novosti.
“The United States and its allies, which supply weapons to the Kyiv regime, actually become accomplices in its war crimes,” Zakharova said. “If Washington decides to supply Kyiv with longer-range missiles, it will cross the red line and become a direct party to the conflict. We reserve the right to defend our territory with [everything available to us].
“In such a scenario, we will be forced to respond adequately, in my opinion, this is obvious. Such an irresponsible step will be extremely destabilizing, contribute to an additional increase in tension and provoke an arms race.”
Russian officials have repeatedly criticized and called for an end to Western aid for Ukraine in the war, but some Western-supplied weapons, including the U.S.-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), have gained widespread attention for their effectiveness in the fight against Russia.
While it remains unclear if the U.S. will ultimately send longer-range missiles to Ukraine, Zakharova’s warning echoed a Russian diplomat’s suggestion this month that the U.S. providing these weapons would directly involve it in the war, which began when Ukraine was invaded on February 24.
“We have repeatedly warned the U.S. about the consequences that may follow if the U.S. continues to flood Ukraine with weapons,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on state television on September 2, according to the Associated Press. “It effectively puts itself in a state close to what can be described as a party to the conflict.”
He added that “a very narrow margin that separates the U.S. from becoming a party to the conflict mustn’t create an illusion for rabid anti-Russian forces that everything will remain as it is if they cross it.”
The latest U.S. security assistance package for Ukraine, worth $675 million, included more HIMARS ammunition, as well as four Howitzers, high-speed anti-radiation missiles and 100 armored high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles. The same day that the U.S. announced the package last week, U.S. General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Ukraine had used the HIMARS for strikes on more than 400 Russian targets in the war.
With the U.S.-supplied HIMARS, Ukraine is able to launch GPS-guided missiles that can reach targets up to 50 miles away. The U.S. has yet to send Ukraine longer-range HIMARS missiles that travel to targets up to 186 miles away that would give the war-torn country the capability to strike deep inside Russia, AP reported.
Newsweek reached out to Russia’s Foreign Ministry and the Pentagon for comment.