On Thursday, Russian officials warned that it would target any western-supplied weaponry supplied to Ukraine following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington.
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Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov responded to Zelensky’s visit by saying that it showed that neither Kyiv nor Washington was serious about peace talks.
Zelensky’s trip to the United States this week was his first trip outside of Ukraine since Russia began its unprovoked invasion on February 24. He had traveled by train to Poland and was spotted at a railway station in the border town of Przemysl on Wednesday. Several Western leaders and other officials have also traveled by train to visit Zelensky in Kyiv.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a conference call that there was no sign of any “willingness to listen to Russia concerns.” He added that Russia would “of course” target the U.S.-supplied Patriot air-defense system that the White House has pledged to send to Ukraine to counter Russian missiles and drone strikes. The Patriot is part of a larger aid package for Ukraine.
“Despite our warnings, Patriot air defense system will be sent to Kyiv,” Antonov said, Russia’s state-run Tass news agency reported. “However, the country does not have specialists to work with them. So, will those be American specialists? Or citizens of another NATO country?”
Antonov also passed blame on Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 on Ukraine, and suggested Kyiv perpetrated “crimes” against the Russian population in Ukraine.
“I want to emphasize that we have repeatedly tried and are still trying to appeal to common sense at all levels. It was stressed that the provocative actions by the U.S. are steadily leading to an escalation, the consequences of which cannot even be imagined,” the ambassador added.
“The notions mulled by the U.S. media that Russia is not interested in achieving peace are a blatant lie. The Russian position was repeatedly voiced by the president of Russia,” Antonov continued.
Putin Defiant as Russian Losses Continue
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had initially described the invasion as a “special military operation” to “denazify and demilitarize” Ukraine, has remained defiant. On Wednesday he told his top defense officials that Russia has “no limitations” on military spending for the war.
Putin added, “I trust that there will be an appropriate response and the results will be achieved.”
However, Russian forces – which likely expected a quick victory followed by carefully staged parades that suggested they were coming as “liberators” – met heavier-than-expected resistance in the early stages of the invasion.
The Kremlin subsequently failed to take Kyiv and it has seen its troops pushed back on nearly every front.
According to Ukrainian estimates, Russia has seen nearly 100,000 troops killed – a figure disputed by Moscow. However, Pentagon and British estimates suggest that Russia’s losses are still a multitude higher than the casualties the Soviet Union saw in its decade-long war in Afghanistan, and perhaps double the number of U.S. servicemen killed in Vietnam over a similar timeline.
Moreover, Russia has lost some 1,500 tanks, and scores of other vehicles, while the flagship frigate of its Black Sea Fleet, Moskva – named for the Russian capital – was sunk earlier this year. She was the largest warship to be lost in combat since the Second World War.
As a result of those setbacks, Russia has turned to targeting Ukraine’s critical infrastructure with missile and drone strikes. It has been described by western officials as a terror campaign as it seeks to deprive Ukraine’s civilians of heat, power, and water as winter has set in.
Clearly, Moscow doesn’t want peace. It is still clinging to a victory it shows little chance of actually achieving.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.