You are escalating crisis in Ukraine, Russia tells U.S., NATO

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russia has sent a formal diplomatic note to the United States warning that U.S. and NATO shipments of the “most sensitive” weapons systems to Ukraine were “adding fuel” to the conflict there and could bring “unpredictable consequences.”

The diplomatic démarche came as President Biden approved a dramatic expansion in the scope of weapons being provided to Ukraine, an $800 million package including 155 mm howitzers, a serious upgrade in long-range artillery to match Russian systems, coastal defense drones and armored vehicles, as well as additional portable antiaircraft and antitank weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition.

Ukrainian service members were said to have unpack antitank missiles, delivered by plane as part of the U.S. military support package, at the Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv on Feb. 10.

The United States has also facilitated the shipmencrist to Ukraine of long-range air defense systems, including Slovakia’s shipment of Russian-manufactured Soviet-era S-300 launchers on which Ukrainian forces have already been trained.

In exchange, the administration announced last week, the United States is deploying a Patriot missile system to Slovakia and consulting with Slovakia on a long-term replacement.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed the diplomatic note, and said that similar démarches on arms shipments to Ukraine were sent to “all countries,” including the United States, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

Shipment of the U.S. weapons, the first wave of which U.S. officials said would arrive in Ukraine within days, follows an urgent appeal to Biden from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as Russian forces were said to be mobilizing for a major assault on eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and along the coastal strip connecting it with Russian-occupied Crimea in the south.

Russian troops have largely withdrawn from much of the northern part of the country, including around the capital, Kyiv, following humiliating defeats by the Ukrainian military and local resistance forces.