WASHINGTON – Russia has sent a series of warnings to the Biden administration, including a formal diplomatic protest this week, demanding that it stop shipping advanced weapons to Ukraine that could strike Russian soil, or risk unspecified “unexpected consequences.”
Two administration officials said the diplomatic note, called an attempt, was sent through regular channels. It was not signed by President Vladimir Putin or other senior Russian officials. But one administration official said it was an indication that the weapons the United States had sent so far were having an effect.
She also indicated that the Russians were concerned about the new tranche of more advanced offensive weapons, part of the $800 million package that President Biden announced the day after the Russian embassy in Washington handed over the endeavor.
US officials said the language of the memo was consistent with a series of overt Russian threats, including targeting arms shipments as they moved through Ukrainian territory.
Officials said the memo did not raise any particular concern in the White House. But it sparked a broader debate within the Pentagon and intelligence agencies about whether the “unexpected consequences” could include trying to target or sabotage certain arms shipments while on NATO territory, before they are handed over to the Ukrainians. The last leg of their journey. The Washington Post had earlier reported that the protest note had been delivered.
The weapons that Biden has allowed to pass this week to the Ukrainians include long-range artillery suitable for what US officials believe will be a different style of battle in the open areas of Donbass, where Russian forces appear to be massing. attack in the coming days.
While Pentagon officials insisted in the run-up to the war in February that the United States was providing defensive only weapons that would avoid escalation, the nature of Russian attacks—including direct attacks on civilians and non-military targets—appears to silence this controversy.
Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, described in an interview at the Economic Club of Washington on Thursday how he and General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reviewed requests for weapons. They reviewed each item with their Ukrainian counterparts, and talked about what the United States has in stock and what it can offer quickly.
Pro-Kremlin media reports have highlighted anti-tank systems and other Western weapons used by Ukrainian forces, promoting the idea that Russia is not at war with Ukraine but with an American-led coalition seeking to destroy Russia. Biden and his aides denied this, saying they were trying to get away from direct conflict with Russia and had no interest in regime change at the hands of America.
In Moscow, commentators increasingly called on Russia to strike Ukrainian roads and railways to prevent arms transfers. While Russia has targeted several Ukrainian airports, the country’s ground transportation network remains largely intact.
“It’s time not to talk, but to attack,” said Viktor Baranets, military columnist for Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia’s largest tabloid. She said Friday. “The train lines as well as the railways must be destroyed.”
Russia’s concern is that the accuracy shown by Ukraine in striking its more advanced warship — whose defenses were supposed to be able to intercept the Neptune anti-ship missile, a derivative of a missile that was originally of Soviet design — would be extended with help from the United States. States.
The Russian action echoed the public rhetoric of officials in Moscow, who had warned for weeks that Western arms shipments to Ukraine would prolong the war and meet with a tough response.
Andrei Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a think tank close to the Kremlin, said this came at a time when there was a growing level of concern among Russian officials about the impact of Western weapons.
“It appears that the United States and the West in general are now testing the limits of Russian tolerance when it comes to arms deliveries,” Mr. Kortunov said. “It is clear that these volumes are already so large that they can affect the course of hostilities, and this raises concerns.”
Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said on Friday that Russia was “making it clear to the Americans and other Westerners” that attempts to slow the invasion and increase Russian casualties “will be curbed in a cruel way.”
He added that NATO vehicles carrying weapons through Ukraine “will be considered by us as legitimate military targets.” His comments came in Interview With the state-run TASS news agency.
NATO delivers weapons to the Ukrainians, so its vehicles are unlikely to cross Ukrainian territory. But Mr. Ryabkov’s comments reinforced concerns about whether Russia would risk striking NATO territory.
When Mr. Putin announced his “special military operation” on the morning of February 24, he said those “who might be inclined to intervene” in Ukraine would face dire consequences “as you’ve never seen before in your entire history.”
“Regardless of the course of events, we are ready,” Putin said at the time. All necessary decisions have been taken in this regard.
But after seven weeks of war, Russia has so far seemed careful not to escalate the conflict in a way that might attract NATO countries more directly — for example, not to bomb arms convoys crossing into Ukraine from Poland.
“There are still concerns about strikes that could hit the territory of NATO member states,” Mr. Kortunov said. “One certainly does not want to create an excuse for further escalation.”
at Press Conference This week, Mr. Putin referred to the arms deliveries only indirectly, describing the US as “ready to fight against Russia to the last of Ukraine”.
“It’s the crux of current events,” he said.
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