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US will cross ‘red line’ if it gives Ukraine longer-range missiles: Russia

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

Russia has warned if the United States supplies Ukraine with longer-range missiles, Washington will cross a “red line” and become “a party to the conflict,” more than six months into Moscow’s military operation in the ex-Soviet republic.

In a press conference on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia “reserves the right to defend its territory.”

“If Washington decides to supply longer-range missiles to Kiev, then it will be crossing a red line, and will become a direct party to the conflict,” she warned.

Russia began its “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, with a declared aim of “demilitarizing” Donbas, which is made up of the Donetsk and Luhansk self-proclaimed republics. Back in 2014, the two republics, which are predominantly Russian-speaking, broke away from Ukraine, prompting Kiev to launch a bloody war against both regions.

The years-long conflict has killed more than 14,000 people, mostly in the Donbas.

Since the onset of the ongoing conflict between the two countries, the United States and its European allies have unleashed an array of unprecedented sanctions against Russia and poured numerous batches of advanced weapons in Ukraine to help its military fend off the Russian troops, despite repeated warnings by the Kremlin that such measures will only prolong the war.

The US has already provided Kiev with advanced rockets capable of hitting targets up to 80 kilometers away, while so far refusing to publicly announce it would send rockets with more than double that range. 

Since the beginning of the war, the US has been providing Kiev with military aid, including at least 16 HIMARS systems, four of which arrived in August.

HIMARS is a light multiple-rocket launcher that can hit targets with precision. It is capable of launching all rockets specified in the Multiple Launch Rocket System Family of Munitions (MFOM).Its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, says the system has a “recognized and proven range” of up to 300 kilometers.

While Kiev implores for more Western weapons, Moscow says it sent troops to prevent Ukraine being used as a platform for Western aggression and to defend Russian speakers in Donbas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has time and again said the US is prolonging the war in Ukraine as part of what he called Washington’s efforts to maintain its global hegemony.

Germany to give Ukraine more multiple-rocket launchers

Separately on Thursday, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Berlin would supply two more multiple-rocket launchers to Kiev.

“We have decided to deliver two more MARS II multiple rocket launchers including 200 rockets to Ukraine,” she told a Bundeswehr conference in Berlin.

Mars II MLRS is a German multiple-rocket launcher adopted by the Bundeswehr back in 1990. It is a certified European version of the American M270 MLRS multiple-rocket launcher.

The system, according to its manufacturer, uses the same projectiles as the M142 HIMARS, but has two containers instead of one, capable of firing 12 rockets in one salvo, rather than six.

“On top of this, we will send 50 Dingo armored personnel carriers to Ukraine,” Lambrecht said, referring to an armored vehicle the German army extensively used during NATO's military operation in Afghanistan.

Back in July, Lambrecht announced Berlin had sent three MARS II MLRS and a total of 10 PZH-2000 self-propelled guns to Ukraine from Bundeswehr warehouses.

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