Russian official claims U.S. ‘directly participating’ in Ukraine fight as ‘Victory Day’ nears

Click to play video: 'Fears Russia will escalate attacks ahead of Victory Day' Fears Russia will escalate attacks ahead of Victory Day
There is growing concern that Russia could escalate the war in Ukraine ahead of its Victory Day holiday. UBC Political Science Professor Allen Sens discusses what's at stake if Russia steps up its offensive – May 4, 2022

Russia’s most senior lawmaker on Saturday accused Washington of coordinating military operations in Ukraine, which he said amounted to direct U.S. involvement in military action against Russia.

“Washington is essentially coordinating and developing military operations, thereby directly participating in military actions against our country,” Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel.

Washington and European members of the transatlantic NATO alliance have supplied Kyiv with heavy weapons to help it resist a Russian offensive that has resulted in the occupation of parts of eastern and southern Ukraine but failed to take Kyiv.

However, the United States and its NATO allies have repeatedly said they will not take part in fighting themselves, in order to avoid becoming parties to the conflict.

Read more: Will Putin send warning to the West at Russia’s WW2 victory parade? Here what we know

U.S. officials have said the United States has provided intelligence to Ukraine to help counter the Russian assault, but have denied that this intelligence includes precise targeting data.

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Volodin, speaker of the lower house of parliament, the Duma, is a prominent advocate of what Moscow calls its “special operation” in Ukraine to degrade its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and root out what it calls fascist elements holding sway over the government and military.

Read more: Amnesty says it has evidence Russia committed war crimes in Ukraine

Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegation is baseless, and that Russia has carried out an unprovoked act of aggression. The conflict has killed thousands in Ukraine, and more than five million people have fled the country.

Volodin said foreign advisers had been working in Ukraine since what he called the “coup d’etat,” in an apparent reference to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s democratic election in 2019.

The rhetoric comes just days ahead of what is known in Russia as “Victory Day” — the May 9 commemoration of the former Soviet efforts against the Nazis in World War Two.

There is speculation Russian President Vladimir Putin will send a warning to the West when he speaks at a parade in Moscow’s Red Square. There is also expected to be a flyover by the Il-80 “doomsday” command plane for the first time since 2010.

That’s the plane Russia’s defence ministry says would carry its top brass in the event of a nuclear war.

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Reuters cited U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns on Saturday as saying at a Financial Times event that Putin is convinced “doubling down” on the conflict will improve the outcome for Russia, which Western officials say has so far failed in its war aims.

“He’s in a frame of mind in which he doesn’t believe he can afford to lose,” Burns said.

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