The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a warning on Thursday, saying that if allegations of an American intention to send powerful air defense missiles to Ukraine are true, it would be “another aggressive move by the U.S.,” which would elicit a retaliation from Moscow.
Following news that the United States would send Kyiv Patriot surface-to-air missiles, the most advanced the West has yet sent to aid Ukraine’s military fend off Russian aerial assaults, ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova declared during a weekly briefing on Thursday that “the U.S. has effectively become a party” to the war in Ukraine.
Growing U.S. military aid, including the deployment of such advanced weapons, Zakharova continued, “would mean even larger involvement of military people in the battles and could have possible consequences,” but she did not elaborate.
According to U.S. officials, Washington was ready to approve the deployment of a Patriot missile battery to Ukraine, finally granting the urgent request of Ukrainian leaders who needed more powerful weapons to shoot down incoming Russian missiles that had severely damaged much of their vital infrastructure.
Soon, a formal announcement is anticipated.
It can take up to 90 people to operate and maintain a Patriot battery, and for months the US had been unwilling to supply the sophisticated system because President Joe Biden’s administration would not support sending troops into Ukraine to do so.
However, there are still worries that even without American service members to instruct Ukrainians on how to use the system, the deployment of the missiles might irritate Russia or increase the likelihood that a launched projectile could land within Russia, exacerbating the conflict.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, presided over by President Vladimir Putin, issued a warning before news of the delivery of Patriot systems broke.
He said that if Patriots enter Ukraine “along with NATO personnel, they will immediately become a legitimate target for our armed forces.”
When asked on Wednesday if the Kremlin supports that threat, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov replied in the affirmative.
However, he added that he would hold off on making any more comments until the U.S. formally announces the Patriot supply to Ukraine.
About responding to the reports, Ukraine has thus far been cautious.
The delivery of weapons like Patriots is still “sensitive not only for Ukraine but for our partners,” according to Hanna Maliar, the deputy defense minister of Ukraine, who told reporters in Kyiv on Thursday.
She added that only President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov would officially announce such an agreement.