Russia this week formally protested the US’ ongoing shipment of weapons to Ukraine, sending a diplomatic note to the State Department warning of “unpredictable consequences” should the support continue, according to two US officials and another source familiar with the document.
The note, known as a démarche, was sent earlier this week as the administration was preparing to announce that it would be sending a new military aid package worth $800 million to the Ukrainians. The Washington Post first reported on the document.
The US has for the first time agreed to provide Kyiv with the types of high-power capabilities some officials in US President Joe Biden's administration viewed as too much of an escalation risk a few short weeks ago, including 11 Mi-17 helicopters, 18 155 mm Howitzer cannons and 300 more Switchblade drones.
A source familiar with the Russian diplomatic note said it was expected that Moscow would protest the shipments, and it was still unclear whether it means Russia will change their behavior in any way. But this person acknowledged that it could signal a more aggressive Russian posture against the US and NATO as the war drags on.
CNN previously reported that the United States believes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s risk tolerance has increased, and that he may be willing to take more aggressive action against the US in response to its support for Ukraine.
Asked for comment, a US official said “we won’t confirm any private diplomatic correspondence. What we can confirm is that, along with Allies and partners, we are providing Ukraine with billions of dollars worth of security assistance, which our Ukrainian partners are using to extraordinary effect to defend their country against Russia's unprovoked aggression and horrific acts of violence.”
Referring to the formal protest from Moscow, one administration official told CNN the Russian notice indicates how effective the US weapons shipments to Ukraine have been. The official suggested the Russians were also concerned by the latest announcement, which includes more sophisticated and heavier-duty weaponry.
Some Biden administration officials believe that the diplomatic note shows the Russians are hurting, a second administration official said. The official explained that they believe the Russians would not have sent that message if they felt they were in a strong place on the battlefield.