Apr 26, 2022: Russia has warned of the “real” threat of World War III breaking out, ahead of a Tuesday meeting between the United States and allies over sending further arms to war-torn Ukraine.
Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour has triggered an outburst of support from Western nations that has seen weapons pour into the country to help it wage war against Russian troops.
Speaking to Russian news agencies, Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the risk of a World War III “is serious” and criticised Kyiv’s approach to floundering peace talks.
“It is real, you can’t underestimate it,” Lavrov said.
For months, Ukraine’s Zelenskyy has been asking Ukraine’s Western allies for heavy weapons – including artillery and fighter jets – vowing his forces could turn the tide of the war with more firepower.
The calls appear to be resonating now, with a host of NATO countries pledging to provide a range of heavy weapons and equipment, despite protests from Moscow.
In a landmark trip to Kyiv over the weekend, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Zelensky and promised $700 million in new aid to Ukraine.
And on the invitation of the United States, 40 countries will also hold a security summit in Germany on Tuesday to discuss further arms to Ukraine – as well as to ensure the country’s longer-term security once the war is over.
Among the invited countries are European allies of the United States, but also Australia and Japan, who fear that a Russian victory in Ukraine will set a precedent and encourage the territorial ambitions of China.
Finland and Sweden, traditionally neutral countries that have been considering NATO membership since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – are also on the guestlist.
And on the Russian side, President Vladimir Putin is due to hold talks with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, his spokesman told RIA Novosti.
Russia has in recent weeks accused Ukrainian forces of striking targets on Russian soil, including two villages in Belgorod and another in the region of Bryansk.
Moscow also accused Kyiv of preventing civilians trapped with Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks from leaving the besieged industrial complex despite a ceasefire announcement.
The Russian defence ministry had said it would allow a civilian evacuation from Mariupol’s sprawling steel plant, which has been sheltering the remaining Ukrainian resistance in the southeastern port city.
But the Russian army on Monday evening said no one used the proposed humanitarian corridor.
Meanwhile, the UN is set to vote Tuesday on a resolution that would require the five permanent members of the Security Council to justify their use of the veto in future.
“It is not directed against Russia,” said co-sponsor Christian Wenaweser, Liechtenstein’s ambassador to the body.
The proposal was on ice for more than two years and its revival came as the Security Council has proven incapable of condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, due to Moscow’s veto power.
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