Russia on Thursday warned the US against sending its Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine, saying it raises the risk of Washington’s direct involvement in the ongoing conflict.
“Many experts, including those overseas, doubt the wisdom of such a step, which would lead to an escalation of the conflict and increase the risk of the US army’s direct involvement in hostilities,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a press briefing.
She said the US is also pressing other NATO countries for “more significant” military support to Ukraine.
Russia views all weapons supplied to Ukraine as “legitimate military targets” that will be “destroyed or captured,” Zakharova warned.
She further said there is "nothing to share" regarding the possibility of a new prisoner exchange between the US and Russia.
She also questioned the nomination of Lynne Tracy, who was tapped in September by President Joe Biden to be the next US ambassador to Moscow, saying she should reflect on the relevance of her value judgments about Russia.
"A candidate for the head of the diplomatic mission, which, as we see, so willingly accepted the tone of the (US) Senate hearings, far from the diplomatic protocol, would, in my opinion, not be superfluous to think about how appropriate such assessments of the country where she will work are now," Zakharova said.
She added that those to become ambassadors to Russia must show "professional, constructive work" to avoid any further "irreparable deterioration of the US dialogue with our country."
Vatican apology, Ukraine grain deal
Zakharova said Russia received a formal apology from the Vatican for Pope Francis' statements against the Chechens and Buryats, which he called "the most brutal part of the Russian troops in Ukraine" during an interview with a Christian magazine in the US late November.
"The ability to admit one's mistakes is becoming less and less common in modern international communication. This situation shows that behind the Vatican's calls for dialogue is the ability to conduct this dialogue and listen to interlocutors. Such an approach, I can tell you now, commands sincere respect," she said.
On the Ukraine grain deal, the spokeswoman said Russia is open to various proposals and modifications of the deal, though all its conditions must be met.
"We want to once again draw attention to the fact that the second part of the deal is not being implemented either at the same pace as the first ... nor with the same efforts." she said.
Poland's declaring Russia 'state sponsor of terrorism,' Lachin corridor
Separately, Zakharova criticized the Polish parliament over its move to declare Russia as "a state sponsor of terrorism."
"The lower house of the Polish parliament adopted a resolution recognizing Russia, as they said, 'a country sponsoring terrorism' … This unfriendly step is part of a customized information and political campaign that the West is conducting against our country," she said.
The Polish Sejm adopted the resolution late on Wednesday, which also held Moscow responsible for the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 and for the 2010 crash of a Polish Air Force aircraft in Smolensk, Russia.
Zakharova also voiced Russia’s concern about the Lachin corridor, a road that links Armenia and the Karabakh region under an agreement that ended the 44-day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the fall of 2020.
“We are concerned about the blocking of the Lachin corridor, it was caused by disagreements between the parties on the development of ore deposits. The Russian Defense Ministry and the Russian peacekeeping contingent have been actively working all these days to deescalate the situation. We are counting on the restoration of full-fledged transport links in the very near future," she said.
Azerbaijani ecologists representing NGOs have been protesting since Monday against the illegal exploitation of natural resources located in mines in the region where a Russian peacekeeping contingent is stationed.
On Sunday, Azerbaijan sent a diplomatic note to Russia concerning the matter, as its officials were prevented from entering the area where the mines are located despite an agreement being reached on the same day.