Moscow says its goal is to make it clear for NATO that Russia will respond harshly to attempts to hurt its military
Russia will perceive convoys delivering arms from NATO states to Ukraine legitimate targets for its military once they reach Ukrainian territory, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov warned in an interview published on Wednesday.
Regular contact with the US is impossible for Russia, considering “Washington’s unabashed support for militaristic intentions of the Kiev regime, the pouring of modern weapons” into the country by NATO members, the diplomat said. Moscow’s goal now is to make it abundantly clear for the US and its allies that Russia will use harsh methods in response to attempts to hurt its military in Ukraine.
“We are warning that American-NATO transports carrying weapons across the Ukrainian territory are considered legitimate military targets,” he stressed.
Moscow has maintained this position from the early days of hostilities in Ukraine. This week, the Russian defense ministry reported destroying four launchers from a battery of the S-300 air defense system delivered to Ukraine by an unnamed European nation.
The weapons in question were presumably from Slovakia, which announced donating an S-300 battery to Ukraine last week. Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger called the Russian claim “propaganda,” citing Kiev’s denial of the report.
In an interview with TASS news agency, Ryabkov said Washington de facto refused to give straight answers about Pentagon-funded biolabs in Ukraine. Moscow and China said they were concerned that the labs were used for bioweapons research, an allegation that US officials have denied. The lack of a proper answer to legitimate questions “confirms that our concerns have grounding,” the Russian diplomat said.
Ryabkov said that all talks between Russia and the US on strategic stability and nuclear deterrence have been frozen. New START, the last treaty on nuclear arms reduction binding the two nations, which has survived since the Cold War, will remain in force until February 2026, he said.
The official said the US attempts to damage Russia through economic sanctions failed to achieve their goal, contrary to the “expectations that the Russians would surrender, as the West convinced itself.” The restrictions are hurting Western nations and businesses too, he pointed out. And while they may slow down Russia’s development, in the long run they won’t stop it, Ryabkov assured.
Washington “is irritated by our calm focus on the tasks of stabilizing the economy and ensuring its sustained functioning in the environment of unprecedented foreign pressure,” he said.
Moscow attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.