Washington has stressed it does not want a direct conflict with Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister says
The United States has told Russia it will not send American troops to operate Patriot air defense systems in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russia’s Channel One on Wednesday. Russian diplomats received these assurances from Washington by “embassy chains”, he added.
“We asked the Americans through the channels that our embassy still has, if their decision to hand over a Patriot battery [to Ukraine] means that American specialists would come with it, because it is complicated to use”, said Lavrov. Russian diplomats then received “many explanations” in which U.S. officials assured them they had no such plans, according to the minister.
“It is precisely because the Americans do not want and will not fight directly against Russia that the Patriot [system] would only be made operational in a few months as soon as the Ukrainian soldiers mastered this technology”, Lavrov explained.
Nonetheless, Moscow has no illusions about the extent of US involvement in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Lavrov said, adding that “dozens or even hundreds of American servicemen” are currently on Ukrainian soil. He particularly underlined the “Considerable military attache apparatus”, adding that its military specialists provide “direct advisory services” to Ukraine. A group of American specialists was also monitoring the use of American weapons in Ukraine, the minister added.
Russia had previously criticized Washington’s decision to send patriots to Ukraine, calling for such a move “challenging.” He also warned that any weapons system handed over to kyiv, including the Patriots, would be “legitimate priority targets” for Russian forces.
Last week, Politico reported, citing some US officials, that air defense systems would not be shipped to Ukraine until its Ukrainian operators were ready. According to the newspaper, the United States could also start training Ukrainians on its soil. An advanced MIM-104 Patriot long-range anti-missile system requires dozens of trained personnel to operate, while the training course usually takes months.
The White House previously said the United States would train Ukrainian soldiers on the Patriots in a “third country”.
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