POLITICS

Chechen leader threatens to send weapons to Mexico if U.S. arms Ukraine; Kremlin disavows him

Ukrainian troops from Donbass battalion train with small arms on March 13, 2015 outside Mariupol, Ukraine.

Ukrainian troops from Donbass battalion train with small arms on March 13, 2015 outside Mariupol, Ukraine.  (2015 Getty Images)

A day after the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of sending arms to the Ukraine to help in its conflict with neighboring Russia, the parliament of the Russian republic of Chechnya has threatened to send weapons to Mexico if the U.S. goes ahead with the shipment.

Chechnya's parliamentary speaker Dukuvakha Abdurakhmanov said that the U.S. has "no right" to advise Russia on how to behave with its neighbors and said that if any weapons from the U.S. land in the hands of Ukrainian fighters, Russia would deliver new weapons to Mexico to "resume debate on the legal status of the territories annexed by the U.S."

The area that Abdurakhmanov is speaking about are the states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, which Mexico surrendered to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 during the peace deal that ended the Mexican-American War. 

"We reserve the right to conduct conferences in Russia, Mexico and the U.S. to raise the question of breaking away the above mentioned states from the U.S. and supplying weapons to resistance fighters there," he said, according to Newsweek.

On Friday, however, Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov refuted Abdurakhmanov's comments in a statement carried by the Interfax news agency, saying such move would defy the Russian law.

The 1848 treaty stipulated that the U.S. pay $15 million to Mexico for the land, along with paying off the $3.25 million of Mexican debt owed to U.S. citizens. Under the Gadsden Purchase, the U.S. bought additional territory from Mexico in 1853 for $10 million.

"This irresponsibility is amazing considering the price the United States had to pay for its direct or indirect involvement in armed conflicts abroad and what price was paid by countries, from Vietnam to Iraq, where military conflicts involved the United States," said Russian legislator Alexey Pushkov, chairman of the State Duma (Parliament) International Affairs Committee, according to UPI. "Their perception is based on the assumption that the U.S. and its allies should always emerge victorious. In reality, the U.S. has suffered numerous defeats and this policy is too doomed to failure."

Both the United States and Russia are already major arms suppliers to Mexico: the U.S. sent $213 million worth of weapons to Mexico in 2013 and Russia shipped $35 million in arms in the same period.

On Monday, the House passed a resolution 348 to 48 urging President Barack Obama to send lethal weapons to Ukraine to protect its sovereignty in its fight against Russian-backed rebels.

There is bipartisan support in Congress to provide the arms to Ukraine forces battling the rebels. Russian President Vladimir Putin denies arming rebels in the war in eastern Ukraine, which began last April after Moscow annexed the mostly Russian-speaking Crimean Peninsula.

State Department officials say Obama administration officials are discussing lethal assistance but are waiting to see whether the agreements that led to February's cease-fire are implemented.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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