Russian Criticism Against US Escalates amid War

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Russia is trying to get back parts of its defense systems, exported in an attempt to restock for its invasion of Ukraine. (Image Credit: The Guardian)

In an article published on Wednesday, November 8th, 2023, the US-based newspaper reported that Russian officials visited Cairo in April and asked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to return more than 100 engines from Russian helicopters. However, on Friday, December 22, 2023, Russia accused Western countries of the seizure of frozen assets amid the ongoing Ukraine annexation. This article will delve deeper into The threats and allegations laid by Russia against the US. The frequent attacks of Russian missiles and drones on the central, southern, and western parts of Ukraine, and the decisive and surgical action taken by the US to stop the supply of the Russian war machine.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Moscow also contacted Pakistani, Belarusian, and Brazilian officials to try to recover engines and transport helicopters its forces lost in Ukraine early on in the war. 

“Russia spent decades building its arms trade,” one source said, according to the WSJ. “Now they’re going back in secret to their customers, trying to buy back what they sold them.”

As well as buying back weapons, Russia is understood to be stepping up domestic production. Russian officials have rejected repeated Western claims that its supplies are shrinking and steered clear of announcing specifics regarding its arsenal and domestic production.

The war in Ukraine began on February 24, 2022, and has claimed tens of thousands of lives, mostly soldiers on both sides. It devastated the country and sent diplomatic ties between the West and Moscow to historic lows.

WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich is currently detained in Russia, accused of spying. He and his paper deny the allegations.

In its report on November 8, 2023, the WSJ also alleged that Russia has received more munitions from partners, including North Korea—a claim made earlier this month by South Korea and denied by Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Russia officially pulled out of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), an international security pact that restricts the use of conventional weapons, saying NATO’s expansion has made such cooperation impossible.

As for Ukraine’s weapons supplies, military analysts have said Kyiv’s counteroffensive has so far failed because the West is failing to send arms efficiently.

“Strategic objectives have not been achieved this year, and it’s hardly possible” in the remaining months, said Lieutenant General Ihor Romanenko, former deputy chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Russian forces continued large-scale attacks against infrastructure and civilian sites in Ukraine overnight into Friday. Kyiv’s air force said on social media that it had shot down 24 of the 28 Shahed attack drones launched from Russia. It was the sixth such attack on the Ukrainian capital so far in December and part of a larger drone swarm that also targeted other parts of central, southern,, and western Ukraine, the air force said.

Air raid sirens were heard in Kyiv late on Thursday, and residents heard explosions. City Hall initially said air defenses were in action and called on people to stay in shelters. Russian missiles and drones have begun to frequently target the Ukrainian capital although air defence systems usually shoot them down.

“A residential building in Kyiv was hit by a Shahed,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, wrote on Telegram.

That attack affected the city’s Solomianskyi district, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram, reporting “flames on the upper floors” of the building. One man was hospitalized while another was treated at the scene, he said. Kyiv’s military administration published photos on social media of apartment buildings with windows blown out, saying debris from a downed drone had caused the damage rather than a strike.

Klitschko also said debris from another downed drone fell on a house in the Darnytskyi district in eastern Kyiv. In the Holosiivskyi district in the city’s south, a piece of shrapnel from a downed drone fell on a high-rise building without causing any casualties, the military administration said on Telegram.

It wasn’t until Friday, December 22, 2023, that the United States and Russia engaged in a bitter diplomatic brawl Monday at the U.N. Security Council over the Ukraine crisis, with the Americans accusing the Russians of endangering peace by massing troops on Ukraine’s borders and Kremlin diplomats dismissing what they called hysterical U.S. fearmongering. Russia warned that it would react robustly to Western moves to seize its assets or deploy missiles.

Moscow could sever diplomatic relations with the United States should it confiscate Russian assets frozen under sanctions, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Friday. Officials also said the Kremlin would respond to the deployment of missiles in Europe or Asia, even as Ukraine reported that Russia had unleashed another barrage of attack drones overnight.

Ryabkov threatened that Moscow could cut diplomatic ties with Washington should it hand frozen Russian assets to Kyiv, which is desperate for funds, according to the Russian state news agency Interfax.

Western countries are discussing the confiscation of more than $1 billion in Russian assets frozen due to sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

The US “must not act under the illusion that Russia is clinging with both hands to diplomatic relations with that country,” the official said.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov later said at a media briefing that countries that seize Russian assets would never be left in peace, and Russia would look at what Western assets it could seize in retaliation.

Some officials in US political circles have suggested that $300 billion of funds from Russian Central Bank reserves frozen in February 2022 to put pressure on Moscow to withdraw from Ukraine be handed to Kyiv.

Peskov said any such seizure would deal a serious blow to the international financial system, and Russia would defend its rights in the courts and through other means.

On Thursday, December 21, 2023, Russia promised to respond in kind should the European Union go ahead with a plan to ring-fence profits generated from frozen assets and hand them to Ukraine.

Prosecutors in Germany said this week that they were applying to confiscate more than 720 million euros ($790 million) from the Frankfurt bank account of a Russian financial institution.

The West is seeking to tighten its sanctions against Russia as it continues to pummel Ukraine.  US President Joe Biden will sign an executive order allowing Washington to impose sanctions on financial institutions that help Russia evade sanctions, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Friday.

The measure will also allow Washington to ban products originating in Russia but processed in third countries, such as seafood and diamonds, Yellen said in a statement. “Today we are taking steps to level new and powerful tools against Russia’s war machine,” Yellen said. “And we will not hesitate to use the new tools provided by this authority to take decisive and surgical action against financial institutions that facilitate the supply of Russia’s war machine.”

Russia’s concerns extend beyond the business and financial sectors. Ryabkov also threatened that Russia is ready to swiftly respond in kind to any deployment by the US of short- and medium-range missiles in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Moscow was closely tracking Washington’s missile development and potential deployments and was ready to take the necessary political decisions to respond swiftly, he stated.

The official also lashed out at the US over problems regarding efforts to organize a prisoner swap, accusing Washington of leaking details of the “sensitive negotiations.”.

The US said this month that Russia had rejected proposals for the release of former US Marine Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

In the face of adversity, Russia seeks to reclaim lost defense assets, displaying resilience and determination. Despite ongoing conflicts, nations navigate diplomatic challenges, with the US taking decisive action. Amid tensions, there’s a glimmer of hope for peaceful resolutions. In the pursuit of stability, the world’s collective efforts aim to overcome obstacles and pave the way for a brighter future.

Written by Paula Onuoha

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