Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday issued an apparent warning to European Union countries providing weapons to Ukrainian defense forces after Russia’s invasion last week.
“There will be a harsh response to the EU actions. Russia will continue to ensure the achievement of vital national interests irrespective of the sanctions or their threat. It is time Western nations realized that their complete dominance in the global economy is long gone,” the Foreign Ministry told Interfax.
It then warned that “EU citizens and entities involved in the delivery of lethal weapons, fuel, and lubricants to Ukraine will bear responsibility for any consequences of such actions to manifest themselves during the ongoing special military operation.”
“They cannot fail to understand how dangerous these consequences are,” the ministry stated. It did not elaborate on what penalty or punishment Russia might try to inflict.
Over the past weekend, EU policymakers agreed to send about $560 million worth of weapons, ammunition, and aid to Ukraine’s military as it battles a Russian invasion.
“For the first time ever, the EU will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country that is under attack,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a news conference. “This is a watershed moment,” she added.
At the same time, the EU shut down its airspace to all Russian planes, including commercial jets and private aircraft. But NATO officials and White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday ruled out enforcing a “no-fly” zone over Ukraine, arguing that such a move would put the United States and NATO in a direct confrontation with Russia.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, meanwhile, said that he rejects Russia’s assertions that Western countries are escalating the conflict.
Russian President Vladimir Putin “is the one escalating this and continues to do so,” he told reporters in Washington. “We’re going to continue to stand by Ukrainian Armed Forces, as we have and other NATO countries have, and we’re going to continue to find ways to help them defend themselves.”
On Monday, the first round of talks aimed at stopping the fighting between Ukraine and Russia ended with no agreement except to keep talking. A top Putin aide and head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, said that the talks lasted nearly five hours and that the envoys “found certain points on which common positions could be foreseen.” He said they agreed to continue the discussions in the coming days.
On Monday, a 17-mile convoy consisting of hundreds of armored vehicles, tanks, artillery, and support vehicles was just 17 miles from the center of Kyiv, according to satellite imagery from the Maxar company.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.