It's been obvious to any outside observer that the US and NATO have committed to a path of deepening involvement in thwarting Russian military action in Ukraine. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spelled it out in his comments just after meeting with President Zelensky on Tuesday, saying the US wants to see a "weakened" Russia and that the Pentagon will "move heaven and earth" to keep arming Ukraine.
After repeatedly condemning foreign weapons shipments while seeking to destroy them, Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued his own fresh warning on Wednesday, telling countries which are now attempting to intervene in various ways that Moscow will "quickly" respond in kind with devastating strikes.
According to Reuters news wire, the Russian leader said that the West has "pushed Ukraine into a conflict with Russia" and that "if someone wants to meddle in Ukraine, Russia's response will be quick."
"We have all the tools for this. The kind that no one else can boast of right now. And we won't brag. We will just use them if needed," Putin said according to a state media translation. He vowed a "swift response" in this scenario.
Commenting on the West's emphasis on 'anti-Russian' propaganda and policies, he said additionally: "Our foes fostered the emergence of a new geopolitical weapon. Actually, it is not new, but [they] certainly gave it new strength, new momentum."
He further asserted, however, that "our banking system, currency, transport sector, and economy as a whole have withstood sanctions."
Also as part of the remarks he appeared to respond, albeit indirectly, to recent statements of Ukraine's Zelensky, who earlier accused Russia of seeking to break apart Ukraine. Putin suggested that this is actually what the West's ultimate goal for Russia is - to fragment it into smaller territories.
On Tuesday the Kremlin and London had traded threats, following the ultra-provocative words of the UK's armed forces minister James Heappey, who said in radio interview that it is "completely legitimate" for Ukraine to strike Russian territory.
He told Times Radio in the remarks that, "In war, Ukraine needs to strike into its opponents' depth to attack its logistics lines, its fuel supplies, its ammunition depots, and that's part of it."
And here's how the Kremlin responded quickly immediately after... It warned of a "proportional response" in such a scenario of aggression laid out by Heappey...
"We would like to emphasize that London's direct provoking of the Kiev regime for such actions, in the event that they are implemented, will lead to an immediate and proportional response by Russia", the MoD said.
"As we have warned, the Russian Armed Forces are on round-the-clock standby to launch long-range precision-guided retaliatory strikes against the relevant decision-making centers in Kiev", the defense ministry asserted, according to a state media translation. Putin's Wednesday comments appeared also aimed at the earlier UK defense chief's remarks, which likely sounded to Moscow's ears like direct encouragement for Kiev to take aim at Russian soil.