In escalating rhetoric, Moscow cites ‘real’ risk of nuclear war

By Oleksandr Kozhukhar and Pavel Polityuk

LVIV, Ukraine/KYIV (Reuters) – Moscow accused NATO of engaging in a proxy battle against Russia by arming Ukraine, saying this had created a serious and real risk of nuclear war.

In a sharp escalation of Russian rhetoric, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was asked on state television about the importance of avoiding World War III and whether the current situation was comparable to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

“The risks now are considerable,” Lavrov said, according to the ministry interview transcript.

“I would not like to artificially raise those risks. Many would like that. The danger is serious, real. And we should not underestimate it,” Lavrov said.

“NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war.”

Lavrov’s comments came as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called a meeting of more than 40 countries at a German air base to discuss arming Ukraine to help it fight Russia’s latest military attack in the East.

“The next few weeks are going to be very, very critical,” Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told reporters traveling with him. “They need ongoing support to be successful on the battlefield. And that’s really the purpose of this conference.”

The goal is to coordinate aid that includes heavy weapons such as howitzer artillery, as well as killer drones and ammunition, General Milley said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he viewed Russia’s fear-mongering as a sign of weakness.

Russia had lost its “last hope of scaring the world out of supporting Ukraine,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter after Lavrov’s interview. “This only means that Moscow feels defeat.”

Britain also downplayed the Russian threat.

“Lavrov’s trademark over the course of the 15 years or so that he has been the foreign secretary of Russia has been that kind of bravado. I don’t think there is an imminent threat of escalation right now,” he told the press. BBC Armed Services Minister James Heappey. Television.

The US State Department on Monday approved the potential sale of $165 million worth of ammunition to Ukraine. The Pentagon said the package could include ammunition for howitzers, tanks and grenade launchers.

Moscow’s ambassador to Washington told the United States to stop the shipments and warned that Western weapons were inflaming the conflict.


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was due to be in Moscow on Tuesday for meetings with President Vladimir Putin and Lavrov, the highest-profile peacekeeping mission since the war began, though Western countries have said they have little hope. of an advance.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine two months ago has left thousands dead or injured, reduced towns and cities to rubble and forced more than 5 million people to flee abroad.

Moscow calls its actions a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West call this a false pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression.


Russia has yet to capture any of Ukraine’s largest cities. His massive invasion force was forced to withdraw from the outskirts of kyiv in the face of heavy resistance last month. But he has since announced new war targets to focus mainly on the east and sent more troops there to attack two provinces where he has backed a separatist revolt.

“It is obvious that every day, and especially today, when the third month of our resistance has begun, everyone in Ukraine is worried about peace, about when it will all end,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Monday night.

“There is no simple answer to that at this point.”

Ukraine’s General Staff said on Tuesday that Russia’s offensive was continuing in the eastern Kharkiv region with Russian forces trying to advance towards a town called Zavody.

While focusing on the east and south, Russia has also hit targets in other parts of Ukraine with missiles and airstrikes. Its Defense Ministry said it had destroyed six facilities that fed railways used to deliver foreign weapons to Ukrainian forces.

The head of Ukraine’s state railway company said one railway worker was killed and four wounded by Russian missile strikes on five train stations on Monday.

Ukrainian forces repelled five Russian attacks and killed just over 200 Russian servicemen, the Ukrainian military command in the southern and eastern sectors said. Five tanks were also destroyed, along with eight armored vehicles, it said in a statement. The reports could not be verified.

Russia is likely trying to encircle heavily fortified Ukrainian positions in the east of the country, the British military said in an update on Tuesday.

Reports say the city of Kreminna has fallen, with heavy fighting south of the city of Izyum, as Russian forces try to advance towards the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the British Ministry of Defense said on Twitter.

The governor of the Russian border province of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said that Ukraine fired on two villages across the border and that at least two people were wounded.

Russian forces continued their shelling and shelling of the large Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where fighters are taking refuge, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.

(Additional reporting by Reuters journalists; Writing by Michael Perry and Peter Graff; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Angus MacSwan)

Leave a Comment