The air defence systems sent to Ukraine by the West could emerge as a deadly threat to civil aircraft in Europe and elsewhere, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. In a statement to RIA Novosti, the ministry noted that Western arms, which include man-portable air defence systems and anti-tank guided missile launchers, “are spreading all over the world into zones of other regional conflicts due to rampant corruption, and fall into the hands of organized crime, terrorists, and extremists of various types. Soon, the issue of the safety of civil aviation in the world, including over Europe, will have to be raised,” the ministry stated.
It also claimed that Western weapons enable the “criminal Ukrainian authorities and mercenaries” to launch strikes on civilians, including women and children, in the four former Ukrainian regions that voted overwhelmingly in referendums to become part of Russia last autumn.
“City residential areas and civilian infrastructure have found themselves under systematic strikes by Ukrainian artillery; the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is being shelled, resulting in the threat of a nuclear catastrophe on the continent,” the Foreign Ministry added.
Russia has repeatedly warned that Western arms provided to Ukraine could end up in the wrong hands. Moscow’s permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said at a UN Security Council meeting on Monday that Western weapons have already found their way to African militants and European criminals.
However, on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed that the US, UK, and France – permanent members of the Council – derailed the meeting by hurling “wanton accusations” at Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.
“Thus, contrary to the constructive mood of the majority of the Security Council members… the conversation that had begun in a substantive and quite professional manner, was reduced to irresponsible political demagogy aimed at further discrediting Russia and other states that are still able to resist the neo-colonial ambitions of the collective West,” Zakharova said.
Since the start of the conflict, Western countries have supplied Ukraine with large amounts of weaponry, including hundreds of air defence systems such as Stingers. Russia has repeatedly warned that these policies make the West a direct participant in the conflict, but will not change the outcome.