ISTANBUL: Moscow on Tuesday accused the United States of direct involvement in the Ukraine war.
Russia said it was responding to comments by Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy head of military intelligence, about the way Kyiv used US-supplied long-range HIMARs rocket launch systems based on what he called excellent satellite imagery and real-time information.
Skibitsky told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper there was consultation between U.S. and Ukrainian intelligence officials before strikes and that Washington had an effective veto on intended targets, though he said U.S. officials were not providing direct targeting information.
Russia’s defence ministry, headed by a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said the interview showed that Washington was directly involved despite repeated assertions that it was limiting its role in the conflict to arms supplies because it did not want a direct confrontation with Moscow.
US says Russia using ‘nuclear shield’ in Ukraine
“All this undeniably proves that Washington, contrary to White House and Pentagon claims, is directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.
“It is the Biden administration that is directly responsible for all Kyiv-approved rocket attacks on residential areas and civilian infrastructure in populated areas of Donbas and other regions, which have resulted in mass deaths of civilians,” the defence ministry said.
There was no immediate reaction to the defence ministry’s allegations from the White House or Pentagon.
Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of carrying out devastating missile attacks on civilian targets on an almost daily basis. Both sides deny deliberately targeting civilians.
Supplies of sophisticated long-range weapons systems from Western nations to Ukraine are seen as vital if Kyiv’s forces are to turn the tide of the war, in which Russia relies heavily on long distance bombardments of urban areas.
The United States has accused Russia of using Ukraine’s biggest nuclear power plant as a “nuclear shield” by stationing troops there, preventing Ukrainian forces from returning fire and risking a terrible nuclear accident. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was “deeply concerned” that the Zaporizhzhia plant, which Russia was accused of firing shells dangerously close to in March, was now a Russian military base used to fire on nearby Ukrainian forces.
“Of course the Ukrainians cannot fire back lest there be a terrible accident involving the nuclear plant,” Blinken told reporters after nuclear nonproliferation talks at the United Nations in New York on Monday.
Russia’s actions went beyond using a “human shield” Blinken said, calling it a “nuclear shield.” At the New York talks, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mykola Tochytskyi said “robust joint actions are needed to prevent nuclear disaster” and called for the international community to “close the sky” over Ukraine’s nuclear power plants with air defence systems.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has sparked the biggest conflict in Europe since World War Two, killing thousands, displacing millions and leaving large parts of Ukraine in rubble.
The war has also caused a global food crisis, with Russia and Ukraine producing about a third of the world’s wheat, while Western sanctions on Russia, a major energy provider to Europe, have caused a global energy crisis.