News ID: 110510
Publish Date : 23 December 2022 - 22:38

Russia: Risk of Clash With U.S. ‘High’

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia’s ambassador to the United States on Friday compared the state of U.S.-Russia relations to an “ice age”, and said that the risk of a clash between the two countries was “high”, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported.
TASS cited Anatoly Antonov as saying that it was hard to say when talks on strategic dialogue between the two sides could resume, but that talks on prisoner swaps had been “effective” and would continue.
U.S.-Russia ties have fallen to their lowest point in decades amid the fallout from Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, and the consequent imposition of Western sanctions.
Two prisoner swaps, in which U.S. Marine veteran Trevor Reed and basketball star Brittney Griner were freed by Russia in return for convicted drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko and arms dealer Viktor Bout, were rare instances of successful U.S.-Russia diplomacy in 2022.
President Vladimir Putin said Thursday night that U.S. supplies of Patriot missiles to Ukraine, agreed upon during Volodymyr Zelensky’s trip to Washington, will not stop it achieving its military goals.
Putin dismissed the weapon as old and said Russia’s missile systems would be able to shoot it down. “The Patriot air defense is outdated. An antidote will always be found … Russia will knock down the Patriot system,” he said.
The Russian president said “all armed conflicts end through negotiations” – implying that Ukraine would ultimately be forced to cede territory in exchange for peace. “The sooner this becomes clear to Kyiv, the better,” he added.
In a call with reporters, Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said there were no signs from Zelensky’s meeting on Wednesday with the US president, Joe Biden, that Ukraine was ready for talks.
Peskov suggested the U.S. was fighting a proxy war with Russia and was determined to keep going “to the last Ukrainian”.
During his first foreign trip since the invasion began in February, the Ukrainian president gave a defiant address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. He said his country would never give in to Russian aggression and that the White House’s continued support was key to ultimate victory.
Biden announced $1.85 billion in new military assistance to Kyiv, including the delivery of a Patriot missile battery system. Zelensky said this would significantly enhance Ukraine’s air defense shield and prevent Russia from hitting critical infrastructure – “our cities, our energy”.
On Thursday, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, inspected frontline positions in occupied Ukraine, according to the RIA Novosti state media agency. A video showed him travelling in a convoy of Z-marked armored vehicles, touring a barracks and talking to soldiers.
In Kyiv, the general staff claimed that Moscow had lost 100,400 troops since late February, as well as more than 3,000 tanks, nearly 6,000 fighting vehicles and 283 planes. The figures are difficult to verify independently.
Zelensky went back to Ukraine on Thursday on a U.S. government Boeing aircraft. Elaborate security precautions were taken to protect him on his trip to and from the U.S. German spy planes and a U.S. air force F-15 fighter jet escorted him over western airspace and he reached eastern Poland by train.
In a video message, Zelensky said he was returning home with “good results”. He added: “We are bringing to Ukraine, to Donbas, to Bakhmut and to the south, the decisions that our defense forces have been waiting for.”
The Ukrainian president’s visit lasted less than 12 hours. Zelensky did not get everything he wanted. Congress failed to agree a large spending bill, which included nearly $50 billion in extra funding for Ukraine, because of a dispute over immigration policy.
So far, the Biden administration has not provided longer-range artillery, tanks and fighter jets that would allow Ukraine to strike targets deep inside Russia. The White House worries that these advanced weapons could escalate the situation and bring the U.S. closer to a direct conflict with Moscow. Kyiv disagrees.
There are also unresolved questions as to what may constitute a Ukrainian victory. On Wednesday, Zelensky said he had discussed a 10-point “peace formula” with the U.S. president, which calls on Russia to leave all Ukrainian territory and demands reparations from Moscow, as well as Nuremberg-style trials for Putin and his generals.
Washington has made it clear that it is up to Kyiv to decide what victory means. So far, it has not explicitly endorsed Zelensky’s pledge to recapture the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014.