Moscow says it will have “no choice” but to attack “decision-making centers” outside Ukraine if Kiev uses US missiles against Russia.
Moscow will have “no choice” but to attack “decision-making centers” outside Ukraine if Kiev uses long-range missiles received from the US against Russian territory, Dmitry Medvedev has warned.
The former Russian president and current deputy head of the Russian Security Council made the remarks Friday in an interview with Qatari TV channel Al Jazeera, in which he also appealed to the “Horsemen of the Apocalypse”.
“If weapons of this kind are used against Russian territories, our country’s armed forces will have no choice but to defeat the decision-making centers,” he said, according to translated comments from the state news agency TASS.
“Everyone understands what kind of centers these are – this is the Ministry of Defense, and the General Staff, and everything else. But you need to understand that, unfortunately, the final decision-making centers in this case are not even located on the territory of Kiev. So this is definitely a threat to be reckoned with.”
Medvedev’s warning was prompted by US President Joe Biden’s announcement Tuesday that America would supply Ukraine with long-range missile systems, at a reverse course from a day earlier.
Sign up The New York TimesMr Biden said he would “provide Ukrainians with more advanced missile systems and ammunition that would allow them to more accurately target key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine”.
The White House National Security Council confirmed it was referring to multiple missile systems (MLRS), which officials said could reach Russia but were not intended for that purpose, NBC News reported.
The Pentagon spokesman told the outlet that Ukraine had agreed not to use the weapons, which have a range of about 70 km, to launch missiles at Russia.
‘Hope in God’
Different versions of the MLRS have different ranges, from about 30 km to 300 km.
On Monday, Biden had ruled out giving Ukraine long-range missiles.
“We are not going to send missile systems to Ukraine that attack Russia,” the president said in a speech at the White House.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham criticized the decision, saying not sending the missiles to Ukraine was “a betrayal” to Ukraine and “democracy itself”.
“Ukraine does not ask for US soldiers – only advanced weapons to protect and defend itself against Putin’s invasion,” he tweeted.
On Monday, Medvedev praised Mr Biden and said it was “rational” for the US not to provide Ukraine with long-range missiles. news week reported.
Writing on Telegram, he warned that Moscow “would have hit the heart of these criminal decisions” if Russian cities were affected.
Following Mr Biden’s turnaround, speaking with Al Jazeera on Friday, Mr Medvedev said Moscow was concerned about the change in Washington’s stance on arms supplies to Ukraine.
“At the beginning, President Biden said they would not provide multiple missile systems, MLRS, and especially advanced arrays,” he said.
“And then this position was changed, and it was announced that at least certain types, such as HIMARS [High Mobility Artillery Rocket System]would deliver.”
While these “don’t have as long a destruction area, not as much range as some other systems … it still poses a clear threat” to Russia, he said.
“The Americans determine this by saying that these systems will only be used on the territory of Ukraine, but for obvious reasons, at least they do not have full control over those decisions that are applied and adopted by the Ukrainian authorities,” he said.
“That’s why, of course, this is a threat, we have to respond.”
He added: “These are not predictions, this is something that has already happened. This can be viewed in several ways, but we can assume that the ‘Horsemans of the Apocalypse’ are on their way and we can only hope in the Lord God Almighty.”
Medvedev’s comments came as Russian nuclear forces held exercises northeast of Moscow on Wednesday after the announcement of Mr Biden’s missile.
Some 1,000 Russian soldiers took part in intense maneuvers involving more than 100 vehicles, including Yars intercontinental missile launchers, Russia’s independent news agency Interfax reported, citing the country’s defense ministry.
War enters 100th day
It came as Ukraine marked 100 days since its invasion of Moscow on Friday, with Russian forces storming the Donbas in their bid to conquer the east of the country.
The bleak milestone came less than 24 hours after Kiev announced that Moscow now controls 20 percent of Ukraine’s territory, including Crimea and parts of the Donbas region seized in 2014.
After being driven from across the capital, Mr Putin’s forces set their sights on conquering eastern Ukraine, prompting dire warnings that the war could drag on.
After the White House’s talks with Mr Biden on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Ukraine’s allies must brace themselves for a grueling “war of attrition”.
“We just have to be prepared for the long term,” Stoltenberg said, reiterating that NATO does not want a direct confrontation with Russia.
Although the advance has been much slower than Moscow expected, Russian forces have extended control beyond the 43,000 square kilometers.
“Today, about 20 percent of our territory is under the control of the occupiers,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
Since the Russian invasion of February 24, thousands of dead and millions have been forced to flee, with eastern Ukraine now bearing the brunt of the Russian attack, which Zelensky said killed up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers every day.
Street fighting raged on the ground in the industrial center of Severodonetsk in Luhansk, part of the Donbas.
The strategic city is a prime target for Moscow, which already controls 80 percent of the area, but Luhansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday promised Ukrainian forces would fight “to the end”.
The Azot plant in Severodonetsk, one of Europe’s largest chemical plants, was targeted by Russian soldiers who fired at one of the administrative buildings and a warehouse where methanol was stored.
Under the leadership of the US, Western countries have been pumping weapons and military supplies into Ukraine to help the country survive the attack so far.
Bridget Brink, the new US ambassador to Kiev, promised on Thursday that the United States would “help Ukraine to overcome Russian aggression” after handing over her credentials to Mr Zelensky.
HIMAR’s advanced multiple-launch missile systems are the centerpiece of a $960 million package that includes aerial surveillance radar, more Javelin short-range anti-tank missiles, artillery ammunition, helicopters, vehicles and spare parts.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Washington of “putting oil on the fire”.
In addition to sending weapons to Ukraine, Western allies have also tried to choke Russia’s financial lifeline in an effort to change Putin’s course.
The US, drawing up an already long list of embargoes, blacklisted Putin’s money manager and a Monaco company that supplies luxury yachts to Moscow’s elite.
Across the Atlantic, EU countries agreed on new sanctions that would halt 90 percent of Russian oil imports to the bloc by the end of the year.
– with AFP