Russia says Western supplies of heavy weapons to Ukraine prolonging conflict and drawing NATO into it

Radina Gigova and Anna Chernova

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has accused the US and its allies of trying to drag out the conflict in Ukraine for as long as possible by supplying heavy weapons to Kyiv, and that such steps are drawing NATO countries into the conflict.

The US and its allies are trying to prolong the conflict as much as possible. With this purpose, they have commenced to deliver heavy offensive armament, openly urging Ukraine to capture our territories,” Shoigu said during a meeting with Russian defense officials on Tuesday. 

“Indeed, this kind of steps [sic] involve NATO countries in the conflict, and can lead to an unpredictable level of its escalation,” he added. “The groups of Russian forces continue grinding all the armament and hardware, delivered to Kyiv, both at the routes of their delivery, and at the combat positions.”

CNN is unable to independently verify those claims.

Shoigu’s claim comes as Ukraine expects Russia to mobilize up to half a million additional soldiers in the coming months, according to a senior intelligence official.

Vadym Skibitskyi, deputy head of Ukrainian Defense Intelligence, asserted in an interview that “Russia is going to mobilize 300,000 to 500,000 people in order to carry out offensive operations in the south and east of Ukraine in spring and summer of 2023.”

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