Russia Warns There's A 'Real' Risk Of Nuclear War If The West Keeps Backing Ukraine
Russia's top diplomat is warning that there is a "serious" and "real" risk of nuclear war if NATO countries continue to arm Ukraine, and that things could escalate.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov issued the warning during a wide-ranging interview on Tuesday with a state-controlled news station in Russia, Reuters reports. He was responding to a question about how important it was for Russia to avoid nuclear war and a worldwide conflict, according to Al Jazeera.
"The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it," he said.
"The risks now are considerable," said Lavrov. "I would not want to elevate those risks artificially. Many would like that."
Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February and has been at war with the country ever since. Russian forces have shelled cities, killed or injured thousands of people and forced millions more out of the country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to justify the invasion by describing "Ukraine as a country run by 'neo-Nazis,' after claiming without evidence that there's a 'genocide' going on against pro-Russian separatists." Both Ukraine and its western allies have largely discredited this narrative.
NATO countries have been shipping weapons and support to the Ukrainians, but they've held off on sending their own troops amid fears of sparking a larger war.
Lavrov suggested on Monday that there wasn't much of a difference between arming Ukraine and fighting Russia directly.
"NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war," said the minister.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign affairs minister, fired back at these implications on social media on Monday.
"Russia loses last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine," he wrote. "Thus the talk of a 'real' danger of WWIII.
Russia loses last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine. Thus the talk of a \u2018real\u2019 danger of WWIII. This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine. Therefore, the world must double down on supporting Ukraine so that we prevail and safeguard European and global security.— Dmytro Kuleba (@Dmytro Kuleba) 1650920905
"This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine. Therefore, the world must double down on supporting Ukraine so that we prevail and safeguard European and global security," read his tweet.
Russia has so far failed to conquer the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and has reportedly shifted its attention to the port city of Mariupol in recent days.
Russia is known to have more nuclear warheads than any other country in the world.