Russia Accuses U.S. of ‘Playing With Fire’ in Ukraine, Warns of Proxy War

People look at US M12A1 Abrams tank captured by Russian forces in Ukraine, displayed at th
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Top Russian diplomat accuses Western countries of being led by “gopniks” — slang for violent petty criminals — and fashionistas, and asserts NATO is the root of all conflict in Europe, but stops short of examining Russia’s own role in the war.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has a long list of complaints against the United States, from political incompetence, provocation, to rewriting history, and to causing nuclear brinkmanship. Russia is innocent of these crimes, apparently, but America’s Western allies are mindless “fashionistas” dancing to the mood music coming from Washington, whatever it might be, the politician railed.

Russia has constantly warned America of these follies, Ryabkov said, and stated because those had been ignored it was now the case that: “they are playing with fire. They have long been in a state of proxy war with the Russian Federation.” Ryabkov, a career diplomat who started his service in the Soviet era and survived the transition into the Russian Federation, said if America continues as it has been, it would become increasingly difficult to prevent a cascade failure in international relations leading to war.

While Ryabkov offers suggestions for why American may not be heeding Russia’s warnings — its leaders having entered a bunker mentality and not taking on external information, for instance — ultimately his put down is that Washington is too stupid and unsophisticated to understand.

Turning around some of the most common criticisms levelled at Putin’s Russia, that it is led by corrupt mafia-gangsters, Ryabkov deployed the Russian nick-name for low-status antisocial petty criminals “gopniks” for the American leadership. America’s European allies don’t escape this onslaught of insults, either, as they are castigated as being led by “fashionistas” who flock to the latest ideas without critical thought.

Ultimately, Ryabkov said, NATO is responsible for the Ukraine war and the diplomatic impasse because it has expanded eastwards towards Russia’s frontiers with new member states in a “manic advance”. This, he said, was in pursuit of a “phantom” of security. These remarks were made without reflection on the fact Russia is perfectly open about the fact it wants to push its own borders east, and is even now fighting to establish what Putin himself calls a “buffer zone” in Ukraine in pursuit of security.

Russia’s commentary on American and NATO involvement in its invasion of Ukraine can often tip into nuclear threats, and while they were implicit in Ryabkov’s comments, they were less blatant than they can otherwise sometimes be. NATO is “literally ready to balance on the brink of a direct armed conflict with us”, he said, and claimed Russia would mirror America’s nuclear posture, but not be the first to act.

Despite such claims, Russia caused concern in the antiproliferation community by taking the treaty-busting move of giving access to its nuclear weapons to neighbour and proxy Belarus, and promising more of the same to other nations that wanted to become Russian allies.

A less escalatory comment of Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was announcing that the United States would no longer be invited to Russia’s annual Victory Day parade on May 9th, the nation’s celebration of the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. The Parade has been attended by Western dignitaries and even U.S. Presidents in the post Cold War era, and troops from allied nations including America, the UK, France, and Poland paraded alongside their Russian counterparts at the 2010 display.

This invitation was being renounced because, it was claimed, the U.S. was re-writing history to minimise Russia’s contribution to the war. As it is, The U.S. has not been invited to the parade since Moscow reinvaded Ukraine in 2022 anyway, and recent incarnations of the event have very much already airbrushed out Britain and America’s role.



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