Western countries transferring weapons to Ukraine to help Kyiv fight off invading Russian forces are being drawn into the conflict, Moscow’s foreign minister warns in a thinly veiled threat while on a trip to Saudi Arabia.
Lavrov accuses Ukraine of a “direct provocation” for requesting missile launchers, air defense systems and other weapons.
“This is a direct provocation aimed at drawing the West into hostilities,” he says.
“Of course, sane Western politicians are well aware of these risks,” he adds, apparently referring to fears that Russia will attack countries in Europe supplying arms to Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden announced earlier that Washington would send Ukraine the Himars multiple launch rocket system, or MLRS, a mobile unit that can simultaneously launch multiple precision-guided missiles up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) away.
Lavrov commends what he calls “reasonable assessments” from Washington, apparently referring to a pledge that the system won’t be used to launch rockets into Russia itself.
In an article in the New York Times, Biden insists: “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.”
“So long as the United States or our allies are not attacked, we will not be directly engaged in this conflict, either by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces,” he adds.
Lavrov says that while Russia is making its case via backchannels, some Europeans don’t seem to be convinced that they should stop supporting Ukraine militarily against the Russian onslaught.
“I will say it frankly: not everyone in the European Union, especially in its northern part [understands this]. There are politicians, who are ready to do this madness in order to satisfy their ambitions. But serious countries in the EU naturally are well aware that such scenarios are unacceptable,” he says, according to state-run Russian media.
The comments come as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announces Berlin will deliver an air defense system capable of shielding a “large city” from Russian air raids to Ukraine.
“The government has decided that we will send the Iris-T system — the most modern system that Germany currently possesses,” he says in parliament.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock admits however that it would take months for the air defense system to reach Ukraine.
Germany will also deliver a tracking radar system capable of detecting enemy rocket artillery, he adds.
AFP contributed to this report.