gave ‘guarantees’ over US-supplied weapons – Blinken


Kiev has assured Washington that US-supplied rocket launchers will not be used to strike targets on Russian soil, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday. He was the last US official to raise the issue, as Moscow expressed concern over the escalation of hostilities in Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters after meeting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Blinken was asked about the HIMARS multi-launch missile systems, the latest high-tech weapon the US has pledged to send to Ukraine.

“The Ukrainians have assured us that they will not use these systems against targets on Russian territory,” Blinken said, adding: “There is a strong bond of trust between Ukraine and the US, as well as with our allies and partners.”

He also dismissed Moscow’s warnings and concerns that Washington’s arms supplies to Kiev were further escalating the conflict.

“The best way to prevent escalation is for Russia to stop the aggression and the war it started,” Blinken said, arguing that it could be “the day after tomorrow” if Moscow chose to, but probably will continue “many months” instead of.

US President Joe Biden officially announced the shipment of HIMARS systems to Ukraine along with other $700 million military equipment on Wednesday afternoon. According to Deputy Defense Secretary Colin Kahl, the launchers were “pre-positioned” in Europe pending the announcement, and the first batch of four will be handed over this week – although it could take up to three weeks to train Ukrainian troops to use them. of it.

HIMARS fires barrage missiles with an effective range of about 30 kilometers, but can also deploy tactical ballistic missiles with a range of up to 300 kilometers. Russia has expressed concern to the US about the latter possibility.

Biden himself, his UN envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield and now Blinken have all insisted that Kiev will not get long-range missiles. Blinken, however, is the first to mention the Ukrainian promises.

Russia cannot rely on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his government to keep their word on the matter, given their previous track record, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier on Wednesday.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The Minsk Protocol brokered by Germany and France is designed to give the breakaway regions a special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself as a neutral country that will never join NATO’s US-led military bloc. Kiev maintains that the Russian offensive was unprovoked and denies that it intended to retake the two republics by force.

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