Russia fired back in anger Wednesday after the Biden administration announced that it was sending advanced medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine.
Ukraine will be receiving the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, which can launch satellite-guided rockets with about the same power as a 500-pound bomb, according to The New York Times.
The system has a range of 48 miles, which is beyond anything Ukraine is using now in its three-month-old war to push back Russian invaders.
The rocket systems are part of a new $700 million array of weapons in the latest package of U.S. military aid to Ukraine that will include helicopters, Javelin anti-tank weapon systems and tactical vehicles, according to the U.K.’s Guardian.
The aid comes as Russia is closing in on the capture of Sievierodonetsk, the last major city in the Luhansk region of Donbas still under Ukraine’s control.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “We believe that the United States is purposefully and diligently adding fuel to the fire” by sending advanced missiles to Ukraine, Fox News reported.
“What the Kiev regime is demanding so categorically, as if everyone owes them, from its Western patrons, first of all, oversteps all limits of decency and diplomatic communication, and second, it is a direct provocation aimed at involving the West in military action,” Lavrov said.
The Biden administration, which previously had rejected sending Ukraine weapons systems that could easily reach into Russia, said Ukraine has assured the U.S. that the new system will not be used to strike across the Russian border.
Peskov said Russia places no faith in such an assurance and views the new development “extremely negatively.”
Asked what might happen if Ukraine does strike a Russian target with U.S. weapons, he said, “Let’s not talk about worst-case scenarios.”
Russian officials have hinted in the past that the war in Ukraine could spiral into a nuclear conflict.
The Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, when asked about a confrontation between Russia and the U.S., as saying, “Any arms shipments that continue, that are on the rise, increase the risks of such a development,” according to Reuters.