Russia now believes it is in a “war against Nato and the West,” a top official at the European Union an official said, while denying that the decision to send tanks to Ukraine represented an escalation from the West.
Speaking from Tokyo on a tour of the Asia-Pacific region, secretary general of the European External Action Service, Stefano Sannino said that the move to send tanks to Ukraine was “game changing” in how Vladimir Putin views the conflict, saying that Moscow has now “moved from a concept of special operation to a concept now of a war against Nato and the West”.
Yet, the Eurocrat denied that this was the intention of Western powers, explaining: “I think that this latest development in terms of armed supply is just an evolution of the situation and of the way Russia started moving the war into a different stage,” adding that the decision was justified due to Russia’s allegedly “indiscriminate attacks” against civilian targets in Ukraine.
On Friday, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the decision to send in “advanced heavy offensive weapons” to Ukraine represented “an unambiguous testament to the West’s utter irresponsibility and determination to further escalate the conflict.”
Perhaps undermining the claim from NATO allies that sending in Western tanks does not represent a military attack against Russia, U.S. President Joe Biden, who signed off on sending 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Kyiv (Kiev) this week, said in March of last year that doing so could result in World War III.
“The idea that we’re going to send in offensive equipment and have planes and tanks and trains going in with American pilots and American crews — just understand, don’t kid yourself, no matter what y’all say, that’s called World War III,” Biden said.
While, American military personal will not be accompanying the shipment of tanks, the Pentagon has already admitted that members of the Army are already operating on the ground in Ukraine — albeit in an apparently limited capacity — risking the possibility of future direct contact between Russian and U.S. forces.
Also undermining the credibility of the claim that the West is not engaged in war with Russia were comments this week from German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who said on Tuesday: “[T]he crucial part is that we do it together and that we do not do the blame game in Europe, because we are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other.”
Although the German government later attempted to walk back the incendiary comments, which were also rejected by Paris, Moscow was apparently not convinced by the retraction.
The Kremlin said that when taken together with previous comments from former Chancellor Angela Merkel, who suggested last month that the 2014 Minsk peace agreement was merely a smokescreen intended to buy Ukraine time to build up its arsenal, Baerbock’s declaration demonstrated that there is a “war against Russia that was planned in advance.”
In addition to the 31 tanks from America, Canada, Germany, Poland, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom have all committed to sending tanks into the war zone. Seemingly not content with the shipment of heavy military equipment, the Zelensky government has already begun to make requests that Western powers begin supplying next-generation fighter jets to the country.
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