By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Moscow warned Wednesday that Washington’s decision to supply advanced rocket systems and munitions to Ukraine could lead to a direct military confrontation between Russia and the United States.
The prospect of war between the two nuclear superpowers was raised Wednesday by several Russian top officials, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Asked later if the U.S. move increased the chances of a third country becoming involved in the conflict, Lavrov said: “Such risks certainly exist.” He told a news conference in Saudi Arabia: “It is a direct provocation (by Ukraine), aimed at involving the West in military action.”
State news agency RIA Novosti quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying when asked about the prospect of a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia: “Any arms shipments that continue, that are on the rise, increase the risks of such a development.”
U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to supply the rockets, which are capable of hitting targets as far away as 80 km (50 miles) after Ukraine gave “assurances” it would not use the missiles to strike inside Russia itself, senior officials said.
However, Moscow has accused Ukraine of hitting Russian targets inside its territory in the past, and the advanced rockets would make that easier.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “We believe that the United States is purposefully and diligently adding fuel to the fire.”
The warnings came as Russia’s nuclear forces were reportedly holding drills in the Ivanovo province, northeast of Moscow
Russia’s Interfax news agency cited the Russian defense ministry as saying Wednesday that some 1,000 servicemen “are exercising in intense maneuvers.” The ministry reportedly said that they use over 100 vehicles, including Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launchers.
These drills added to concerns among governments of several neighboring countries, also fear the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine could spread to their territories.
Those fears already prompted Finland and Norway to apply for membership in the U.S.-led NATO military alliance.
News about the standoff came as Russia’s military made military progress in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region after suffering defeats elsewhere.
However, authorities remain concerned about threats to nuclear and other strategic facilities left behind by retreating Russian forces.
Hungary, which declined to send weapons to Ukraine, said it is sending explosives experts providing training and equipment to aid in freeing the surroundings of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine from mines and ammunition.
The area is littered with mines, explosives, and ammunition after Russian troops have vacated it. “The task requires special expertise due to the radioactive dust stirred up in the area,” Hungarian police said.
At the request of the European Union, they will reportedly provide training, protective equipment, and dosimeters to Ukrainian experts.
Chernobyl was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986, with radiation exposure eventually killing thousands of people in several countries, experts say.
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