MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Thursday it saw the promised delivery of Western tanks to Ukraine as evidence of direct and growing U.S. and European involvement in the conflict.
It was the first Kremlin reaction to announcements by the United States and Germany on Wednesday that they would arm Ukraine with dozens of battle tanks in its fight against Russia.
“There are constant statements from European capitals and Washington that the sending of various weapons systems to Ukraine, including tanks, in no way signifies the involvement of these countries or the alliance in hostilities in Ukraine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“We categorically disagree with this, and in Moscow, everything that the alliance and the capitals I mentioned are doing is seen as direct involvement in the conflict. We see that this is growing.”
U.S. President Joe Biden said the tanks pose “no offensive threat” to Russia and that they were needed to help the Ukrainians “improve their ability to manoeuvre in open terrain”.
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Ukraine has been seeking hundreds of modern tanks to give its troops the firepower to break Russian defensive lines and reclaim occupied territory in the south and east. Ukraine and Russia have been relying primarily on Soviet-era T-72 tanks.
(Reporting by Reuters; writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Gareth Jones)
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