Russia Says U.S.-Supplied Weapons to Ukraine Could Escalate Conflict


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A residential block damaged by shelling this week in the rebel-held town of Yasynuvata, Ukraine.

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Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

MOSCOW — The decision by the United States to supply weapons to Ukraine is dangerous as it will encourage Kiev to use force in eastern Ukraine, Russian officials said on Saturday.

The statement came one day after the State Department said that the United States would provide Ukraine with “enhanced defensive capabilities” as Kiev battles Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country.

President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine said on Facebook on Saturday the weapons would be used to protect Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.

Supplies of any weapons would encourage those who support the conflict in Ukraine to use the “force scenario,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said on Saturday, according to the RIA state news agency. Franz Klintsevich, a member of the upper house of the Russian Parliament’s security committee, said Kiev would consider arms supplies as support of its actions, Interfax news agency reported.

“Americans, in fact, directly push Ukrainian forces to war,” Mr. Klintsevich said.

Since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine and Russia have been at loggerheads over a war in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces that has killed more than 10,000 people in three years.

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A Ukrainian soldier firing a machine gun last week at his position on the front line of the government-held town of Avdiyivka, Ukraine.

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Oleksandr Klymenko/Reuters

Mr. Poroshenko said in his Facebook post that he had confirmed the weapons deal with Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, calling it “a trans-Atlantic vaccination against the Russian virus of aggression.”

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