Friday, June 21, 2024

UK says does not want ‘direct conflict with Russia’

The West has no appetite for a direct military confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, British Defenсe Secretary Grant Shapps has stated. He also suggested that Berlin is unwilling to provide its long-range missiles to Kiev for fear that they would be used to hit Russian targets in Crimea.

On Tuesday, Shapps had said Britain has no problem with its weapons being used by Ukraine to strike the peninsula, which joined Russia in 2014 following a referendum. Most countries, however, do not recognize this territory as Russian. Earlier this month, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron also gave the green light to UK-made weapons being deployed to conduct attacks deep inside Russia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded by summoning the British ambassador and warning that Moscow reserves the right to retaliate against “any British military facilities and equipment on the territory of Ukraine and beyond”.

Speaking to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday, Shapps explained that the West does not shoot down incoming Russian missiles over Ukraine because “we don’t want to be in a direct conflict with Russia… we don’t intend to go and fight that war”.

In another interview with Sky News on Sunday, the defense secretary stated: “The United Kingdom has been very forward-leaning about the way that our weapons are used, including – and other countries didn’t initially do this but then followed our lead – in Crimea, which we see as an integral part of Ukraine.”

The official also suggested that the reason Germany has for months turned down Ukrainian requests for long-range Taurus missiles is out of concern that Kiev would use these over Crimea. Shapps added that he would like to see Berlin lift this self-imposed, supposed taboo.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the “American and British handlers of the [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky regime” of “not only providing longer-range missiles and heavy weapons, but [also of] giving the green light for their use against Russia”.

“Once again, we would like to unequivocally warn Washington, London, Brussels and other Western capitals, as well as Kiev, which is under their control, that they are playing with fire. Russia will not leave such encroachments on its territory unanswered,” the spokeswoman stressed.

On Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that there had been multiple instances in the past few days that had seen Western-supplied missiles and guided bombs intercepted by Russian air defenses.

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