- The Washington Times - Friday, April 15, 2022

Russia has reportedly issued a formal warning that U.S. and NATO weapons shipments to Ukraine could have “unpredictable consequences,” amid President Biden’s pledge to arm Ukraine’s embattled forces with increasingly lethal weapons.

In a letter forwarded to the State Department by the Russian Embassy in Washington, the Kremlin said the U.S. and NATO shipments of “most sensitive” weapons to Ukraine were “adding fuel” to the conflict.

“We call on the United States and its allies to stop the irresponsible militarization of Ukraine, which implies unpredictable consequences for regional and international security,” the letter said.

The Washington Post reviewed the letter, which was sent Tuesday, and first reported its contents.

On Wednesday, Mr. Biden announced an $800 million package of additional military aid for Ukraine, including heavy artillery and armored personnel carriers, as the world braces for an expected Russian assault in eastern Ukraine.

The U.S. has provided $3.2 billion in military aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, and other NATO and allied countries have been supplying the Ukrainian military with tanks, planes and heavy weaponry.

The latest U.S. aid package includes new capabilities not yet provided to Ukrainian forces which Mr. Biden said are “tailored to the wider assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded with Western allies to help Ukraine battle Russia’s bombardment of his country with a NATO-enforced no-fly zone and fighter jets to protect Ukraine’s skies.

Western leaders have walked a fine line in providing lethal aid to Ukraine over concern for further escalating the conflict and fear of being drawn into direct war with nuclear-armed Russia. President Biden and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg have repeatedly said the NATO troops would not get involved in the fighting.

Moscow has on multiple occasions issued veiled threats that it was willing to use its vast nuclear arsenal since invading Ukraine.

In late March, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian nuclear forces on heightened alert status in response to Western sanctions levied against Moscow. This week, the Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev Moscow could respond with a nuclear or hypersonic missile deployment should Sweden and Finland join NATO.

On Thursday, CIA Director William Burns said the threats should not be taken lightly, though said there has been little “practical evidence” that Russia is currently postured for a nuclear standoff despite the “rhetorical posturing.”

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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