Amid talk of World War III

Amid talk of World War III: The specter of nuclear catastrophe hangs over the Russian war in Ukraine, according to Russia’s own top diplomat. Speaking on state television earlier this week, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned NATO countries against sending armaments to Ukraine, suggesting that such support was “pouring oil on the fire” and increasing the risk of confrontation between nuclear powers.

“Everyone is reciting incantations that in no case can we allow World War III,” Lavrov said, insisting that Russia in no way wanted to drift down the path of nuclear strife with what he dubbed the Western “proxy” forces battling Russian troops in Ukraine. But he added that the risk was “serious, it is real.”

Lavrov and his boss, Russian President Vladimir Putin, are doing little to extinguish the fire they started. Two months ago, Russia embarked upon an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine that has now bogged down into a bloody, sprawling conflict. On Tuesday in Moscow, Lavrov and Putin hosted U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, whose desperate entreaties for an immediate cease-fire and an “end” to the war “as soon as possible” appeared to make little impact. Putin agreed “in principle” to allow the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to help evacuate Ukrainian civilians camped out in the besieged Azovstal steel plant, the last redoubt of Ukrainian resistance in the devastated port city of Mariupol. But no cease-fire looks imminent as Russia continues its campaign in Ukraine’s south and east. After meeting Lavrov, Guterres admitted to reporters that it was “clear that there are two different positions on what is happening in Ukraine.”

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With its invasion of #Ukraine, #Russia has brought suffering & pain as the number of victims of sexual violence continues to grow. No war is a justification for such crimes. I appeal to Russia’s soldiers & their superiors to put an end to their violence. pic.twitter.com/AHkFxBtckz— Zuzana Čaputová (@ZuzanaCaputova) April 26, 2022

The war in Ukraine underscores a moment of democratic crisis What is not happening is any substantive process toward a diplomatic solution. Lavrov said current prospects for a settlement were “dismal,” pinning the blame on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for a lack of sincerity in negotiations. The Ukrainians counter that Russian atrocities against their civilians make any prospect of territorial or political concessions impossible and that, with support from abroad, they are beating Russia on the ground.

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In a tweet, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded to Lavrov’s doom-mongering over nuclear conflict. “Russia loses last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine,” he wrote. “Thus the talk of a ‘real’ danger of WWIII. This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine.” An initial dialogue between the two sides hosted by Turkey looks to have borne little fruit. A story in the Financial Times, citing sources briefed on conversations with Putin, claimed that the Russian president had “lost interest in diplomatic efforts to end his war” and was particularly irate after Ukraine managed to sink the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Putin appears determined not to be humiliated on the international stage and needs to locate some kind of clear victory in Russia’s shambolic war effort. Both Ukrainian and Western officials have been skeptical about the Kremlin’s interest in peace talks, suspecting that they were a ruse to help Russia retool for new offensives. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a congressional hearing that he had seen “no sign to date” that Putin is serious about “meaningful negotiations.”

Russia’s Lavrov says danger of World War III ‘real’ amid war with Ukraine

U.S. military officials believe Russia intends, in this next phase of the war, to seize control not just of the eastern Donbas region, but all of southeastern and southern Ukraine, creating a link to annexed Crimea while cutting off Ukraine entirely from the Black Sea. Most observers see the conflict only getting worse. “Two months into the war against Ukraine there is no end in sight and Russia’s most recent actions even point to an intensification of the fight,” E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wrote in a Tuesday blog post.

We just kicked off a historic meeting — more than 40 countries gathered together to help Ukraine win the fight against Russia’s unjust invasion. Our goal is to leave here with a common, transparent understanding of Ukraine’s short-term and long-term security requirements. pic.twitter.com/sRuhu7aPis— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) April 26, 2022

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Everywhere one turns, the fault lines between Russia and the West are growing wider. Russian state energy giant Gazprom moved Tuesday to suspend gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria for their refusal to pay for this gas in rubles via Russian banks — a stipulation recently decreed by Putin in a bid to counteract the weight of sanctions. Poland has already made plans to transition off Russian gas imports, while other European governments are accelerating their own. In an ongoing tit-for-tat game with Western governments, Russia also announced a new wave of diplomatic expulsions, including 40 German diplomats this weekend. NATO countries, meanwhile, are stepping up their deliveries of heavy weaponry to the Ukrainians — recent contributions include British armored vehicles fitted with anti-air missiles, Dutch armored howitzers, and, significantly, Gepard self-propelled antiaircraft guns and antitank vehicles from Germany. Last week, President Biden announced another tranche of $800 million worth of military aid to Ukraine, including heavy artillery and advanced drones.

World War III and nuclear threats

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin helped convene a meeting in Germany with military leaders from more than 40 NATO and non-NATO countries, as Western officials sought to better coordinate their near-term tactical response to Russia’s southern offensives. The discussions followed Austin and Blinken’s visit to the Ukrainian capital this weekend. “My trip to Kyiv reinforced my admiration for the way that the Ukrainian armed forces are deploying” the help they are getting, Austin said. “Ukraine clearly believes that it can win. And so does everyone here.” But, in private, officials are a bit more nervous about the coming weeks. Though some military analysts suggest Russia’s offensive capacity may be close to exhaustion, the Kremlin seems determined to roll the dice and seize as much Ukrainian territory as possible. The government in Kyiv will need outside backing to mount a sustained defense. “Time is not on Ukraine’s side,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in closed-door comments provided to reporters traveling with him. “The outcome of this battle, right here, today, is dependent on the people in this room.”

War in Ukraine: What you need to know The latest: Five Russian missiles hit Kyiv as United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres wrapped up his Thursday visit to the Ukrainian capital, President Zelensky said. The fight: Russian forces continue to mount sporadic attacks on civilian targets in a number of Ukrainian cities. Ukrainian prosecutors have been taking detailed testimony from victims to investigate Russian war crimes. The weapons: Ukraine is making use of weapons such as Javelin antitank missiles and Switchblade “kamikaze” drones, provided by the United States and other allies. Russia has used an array of weapons against Ukraine, some of which have drawn the attention and concern of analysts. Photos: Post photographers have been on the ground from the very beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work. How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can help support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating. Read our full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive videos.

 

 

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