A leading official in Russia’s parliament is warning of a “global tragedy” if Ukraine gets new weapons from allies as the bitter fight between the two nations nears the 11-month mark.
Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of State Duma — Russia’s lower house of the country’s parliament — issued the ominous message Sunday following allies of Kyiv pledging to provide more armored vehicles, air defense systems and other equipment to take on Russian troops.
He said the countries sending more powerful weapons could lead to “global tragedy that would destroy their countries.”
“Supplies of offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime would lead to a global catastrophe,” said Volodin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“If Washington and NATO supply weapons that would be used for striking peaceful cities and making attempts to seize our territory as they threaten to do, it would trigger a retaliation with more powerful weapons.”
He claimed the United States and NATO’s assistance to Ukraine has led to a “terrible war.”
Volodin has held his current post since 2016; prior to that he had a senior role in the presidential administration. He’s also a member of Putin’s Security Council — giving him regular access to the president.
While supporters vowed to send billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine during a meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday, an agreement wasn’t reached on Ukraine’s urgent request for German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks.
The transfer of those tanks needs to approved by Berlin even though they’re in the possession of other NATO nations.
When German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was asked about the tanks at a joint press conference with France on Sunday in Paris, he deflected, stressing instead the large contributions Germany has already made to Ukraine.
“The US is doing a lot, Germany is doing a lot, too,” he said as Germany faces criticism for its caution, particularly from Poland and other Baltic states.
Germany’s top diplomat said Sunday if Poland sends tanks into Ukraine, German officials would not object.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told French TV channel LCI that while Poland has not sought formal approval, “if we were asked, we would not stand in the way.”
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki vowed to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine with a “smaller coalition” of countries even if Germany did not give his country the green light.
French President Emmanuel Macron said at the same Paris press conference that he hasn’t ruled out sending Leclerc battle tanks to Ukraine. One of the factors guiding France’s decision would be if the transfer of tanks would lead to an escalation of the conflict, he said.
France and Germany were celebrating 60 years of post-World War II friendship during the two world leaders’ remarks.
Meanwhile, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) on Sunday urged the US to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine to counteract Germany’s hesitance.
“If it requires our sending some Abrams tanks in order to unlock getting the Leopard tanks from Germany, from Poland, from other allies, I would support that,” Coons said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Ukraine in recent weeks has asked for more weapons to prepare for a possible new offensive from Russia in the spring.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s security council, said the meeting at the German air base “left no doubt that our enemies will try to exhaust or better destroy us,” while also admitting “they have enough weapons” to do that.
He said if the war, which began Feb. 24, 2022, drags on, it could lead to Russia forming a military alliance with “the nations that are fed up with the Americans and a pack of their castrated dogs.”
Medvedev, a former Russian president, warned last week nuclear war could follow if Russia loses the war to Ukraine.