London — Russia on Thursday warned the West that there would be a tough military response to any further attack on Russian territory, accusing the US and its key European allies of openly inciting Ukraine to assault Russia.
Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands of people, displaced millions more and raised fears of the most serious confrontation between Russia and the US since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
Two months since Russia invaded Ukraine, Russia has in recent days reported what it says are a series of attacks by Ukrainian forces on Russian regions that border Ukraine, and has warned that such attacks risk an escalation.
Ukraine has not directly accepted responsibility, but says the incidents are payback, while Russia has taken umbrage at statements from Nato-member Britain that it is legitimate for Ukraine to target Russian logistics.
“In the West, they are openly calling on Kyiv to attack Russia including with the use of weapons received from Nato countries,” Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters in Moscow. “I don’t advise you to test our patience further.”
Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday that if such attacks continued then Moscow would target decision-making centres in Ukraine, including those where it said Western advisers were helping Kyiv.
“Kyiv and West capitals should take the statement from the ministry of defence seriously that further inciting of Ukraine to strike Russian territory will definitely lead to a tough response from Russia,” Zakharova said.
Zakharova cast Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a puppet of the West, who was being used by the US to threaten Russia. “You are being used,” she said.
The US has ruled out sending its own, or Nato, forces to Ukraine but Washington and its European allies have supplied weapons to Kyiv such as drones, Howitzer heavy artillery, anti-aircraft Stinger and anti-tank Javelin missiles.
Total US security assistance since the invasion amounts to about $3.7bn, a US official said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin casts such large arms shipments as part of a broader plan by the US and its allies to destroy Russia and has promised that it will never succeed.
He says the “special military operation” in Ukraine is necessary because the US was using Ukraine to threaten Russia and Moscow had to defend against the persecution of Russian-speaking people. He casts the conflict as an inevitable confrontation with the US, which he accuses of threatening Russia by meddling in its backyard and enlarging the Nato military alliance.
Ukraine says it is fighting an imperial-style land grab and that Putin’s claims of genocide are nonsense. Zelensky has been pleading with US and European leaders to supply Kyiv with heavier arms and equipment.
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