Jan 22, 2023 - World

Russian official says new weapons for Ukraine will result in "global catastrophe"

Vyacheslav Volodin

Vyacheslav Volodin speaks during the first plenary session of the Duma this year on Jan. 17. Photo: Getty Images

The continued delivery of Western weapons to Ukraine will provoke retaliation from Russia and will "lead to a global catastrophe," a Russian parliamentary leader warned Sunday.

Why it matters: The comments come amid debate among Germany, the U.S. and its allies as to whether to send tanks to Ukraine in accordance with requests from Kyiv.

  • Ukraine has a particular desire for German Leopard 2 tanks — which could also be provided by other NATO allies — and would replenish Ukraine's fleet of tanks, much of which has been worn out and destroyed over the nearly yearlong conflict, per The New York Times.
  • However, Germany has been reluctant to make the first move over fears of escalation.
  • Germany has indicated that it wants the U.S. to make the first move by sending its own Abrams tanks, which U.S. officials have resisted due to the logistics of maintaining them, Reuters reported.

What they're saying: Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, wrote in a Telegram post Sunday that if the U.S. and NATO send Ukraine weapons that could be used "to strike civilian cities and attempt to seize our territories," then Russia would respond with "retaliatory measures using more powerful weapons."

  • "With their decisions, Washington and Brussels are leading the world to a terrible war: to a completely different military action than today, when strikes are carried out exclusively on the military and critical infrastructure used by the Kyiv regime," Volodin said.
  • "Given the technological superiority of Russian weapons, foreign politicians making such decisions need to understand that this could end in a global tragedy that will destroy their countries," he added.
  • "Arguments that the nuclear powers have not previously used weapons of mass destruction in local conflicts are untenable. Because these states did not face a situation where there was a threat to the security of their citizens and the territorial integrity of the country."

State of play: Some members of Congress have advocated for the U.S. to provide the Abrams tanks.

  • In light of a possible springtime offensive by Russia, the U.S. should act quickly to provide Ukraine with the tanks they need, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told ABC's "This Week" Sunday.
  • "If it requires our sending some Abrams tanks in order to unlock getting the Leopard tanks from Germany, from Poland, from other allies, I would support that," Coons said.
  • "I respect that our military leaders think the Abrams is too sophisticated, too expensive a platform to be as useful as the Leopards, but we need to continue to work with our close allies and move forward in lock step," Coons added.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the same program Sunday that the U.S. should provide their tanks in order to spur other allies to do the same.

  • “Even saying we’re going to put Abrams tanks in, I think would be enough for Germany to unleash,” McCaul said.
Go deeper