‘Don’t try our patience’: Moscow warns west over Ukraine strikes in Russia

A foreign ministry official in Moscow warns of a possible ‘harsh response’ from Russia

Thomas Kingsley
Thursday 28 April 2022 19:41 BST
Putin promises 'immediate' reaction if Russia threatened

Moscow has warned the west it will face consequences if it does not stop encouraging Ukraine to carry out attacks on Russian soil.

Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for Russia’s ministry of foreign affairs, accused western states of “aggression” and of “using” the Ukrainian leadership to carry out its aims.

She also singled out UK armed forces minister, James Heappey, who said earlier this week that it was “legitimate” for Ukraine to strike inside Russia. Moscow claimed the minister was calling on Ukraine to use weapons provided by Nato.

“We would like Kyiv and western capitals to take seriously the statement by the Russian ministry of defence that further provocation prompting Ukraine to strike against Russian facilities will be met with a harsh response from Russia,” she said.

Advisers from western countries staying in Ukraine’s decision making centres will not necessarily be a problem for Russia’s response measures. We do not advise to continue trying our patience.”

It was a follow-up to comments from Vladimir Putin who said on Wednesday that his response would be “lightning fast” should the west interfere in its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

The Kremlin has reported a series of blasts in the south of Russia, and a fire at an ammunition depot on Wednesday, the latest in a spate of incidents that a top Ukrainian official described as payback and “karma” for Moscow’s invasion.

Further straining tensions, a Ukrainian presidential aide said on Thursday that the world recognises his country has a right to defend itself by carrying out attacks on Russian military bases and warehouses.

Writing on Twitter, Mykhailo Podolyak said US secretary of state Antony Blinken – who visited Kyiv last week – said Ukraine must decide whether to strike Russian military bases.

“Russia has attacked and (is) killing civilians. Ukraine will defend itself in any way, including strikes on the warehouses and bases of the killers. The world recognises this right,” presidential aide Mr Podolyak wrote.

It comes as Moldova’s pro-Russian breakaway region of Transnistria raised its terrorist threat level on Tuesday after two blasts damaged Soviet-era radio masts and reported that shots were fired from the territory of Ukraine overnight towards a village that houses a large ammunition depot.

The region’s interior ministry also said that it had detected drones that it said were launched from Ukraine.

A view of the damaged building of the Ministry of State Security, in Tiraspol, the capital of the breakaway region of Transnistria (AP)

Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, called on western allies to send tanks, warplanes and other heavy weapons to Ukraine, saying fears of escalating the war were misplaced and “inaction would be the greatest provocation”.

“This is a time for courage, not caution,” among nations helping Ukraine fight Russia’s invasion, Ms Truss said.

“Heavy weapons, tanks, airplanes – digging deep into our inventories, ramping up production. We need to do all of this,” Ms Truss said during an annual foreign policy speech at Mansion House.

In response to the foreign secretary’s comments, however, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, said on Thursday that giving Kyiv heavy weapons would threaten the security of the European continent.

“In itself, the tendency to pump weapons, including heavy weapons, to Ukraine and other countries are actions that threaten the security of the continent and provoke instability,” Mr Peskov told reporters.

Ms Truss said more and heavier weapons need to be supplied to Ukraine (PA Wire)

Meanwhile, Nato has said it is ready to support Ukraine for years in the war against Russia, including helping Kyiv to advance from old Soviet-era weapons to modern Western military equipment, the alliance’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

“We need to be prepared for the long term... there is absolutely the possibility that this war will drag on and last for months and years,” Mr Stoltenberg told a youth summit in Brussels.

Russia has also accused the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) of handing information on the location of Russian and pro-Russian forces to western and Ukrainian intelligence, further frustrating the Kremlin.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Ms Zakharova made the allegation during a briefing with reporters but did not provide evidence for it. She said investigators from the self-proclaimed breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, which is backed by Russia, would provide additional proof.

The OSCE has a monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian army since 2014.

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