During a Tuesday interview with state media, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said that if the U.S. and other Western allies of Ukraine continue to provide the country with weapons, the risk of the war escalating into a nuclear conflict “should not be underestimated.”
CBS News reported that Lavrov said that by providing weapons to Ukraine, NATO countries were “pouring oil on the fire” and risking “World War III.”
Lavrov said that by providing weapons to Ukraine, NATO nations were already “in essence engaged in war with Russia.”
The Russian diplomat’s warning came as U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with NATO allies in Germany to urge European nations to increase their military aid to Ukraine. Germany’s defense chief announced on Tuesday that Germany would soon start sending self-propelled armored anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine.
According to CBS News, foreign solidarity with Ukraine has “only grown over the course of Putin’s unprovoked two-month assault” that is now placing its focus largely on the eastern regions of Ukraine.
Last night, the Defense Ministry in Moscow said that it had hit roughly 90 more targets that it designated as “military” institutions. These included rail facilities around the northeastern city of Kharkiv that are crucial for getting supplies — including weaponry — into the city.
Austin told Ukraine’s allies in NATO that despite being significantly outgunned, Ukraine could manage to achieve victory if the country was provided with the “right equipment.”
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, dismissed the comments made by Lavrov and suggested that the bellicose rhetoric indicated that Russian leadership already “senses defeat in Ukraine.”
Despite this, the fighting in Ukraine’s eastern regions is far from over. Russian forces are reporting that their latest strikes in Kharkiv have killed 500 Ukrainian troops. CBS News says this claim cannot be verified but does substantiate the fact that front-line fighting in the region has only grown more intense.
Residents in Ukraine’s eastern regions are having their lives overturned as Russian forces continue to shell their hometowns. Many people have fled their family homes and taken shelter in shopping centers, where cafes are being converted into first-aid centers and refugee camps are being set up in parking lots.
Reportedly, Russian forces continue to abuse and claim the lives of civilians as they continue to push forward along their 300-mile-long front line in the east.
Fedor Zubkov, a 36-year-old man living near the eastern town of Zaporizhzhia, said that he was held captive for two days, handcuffed, and had a gun pointed at him by Russian forces.
He said, “I need to see the psychiatrist because, after the imprisonment and the loss of my beloved wife, I am slowly losing my mind. You can’t even imagine what it is like to be tortured when 30 fully armored Chechen men stand in front of you, point the gun at you, and threaten to kill you again and again.”