Moscow points to the danger of nuclear war

Moscow points to the danger of nuclear war while the United States and its allies have pledged to send heavy weapons to Ukraine.

 Russia accused NATO of creating a severe risk of nuclear war by arming Ukraine to face Russia as Washington and its allies met on Tuesday to pledge the heavy weapons Kyiv needs to win.

This week, US officials shifted their focus from talking primarily about helping Ukraine defend itself to talking more aggressively about a Ukrainian victory that would deal a blow to Russia's ability to threaten its neighbors.

 The USA approved millions of dollars in arms shipments, including artillery and drones, which they had refrained from in earlier stages of the war.

In a notable escalation of Russian rhetoric, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was asked on state television about the possibility of starting World War III and whether the current situation was similar to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

"The danger is serious and real, and we must not underestimate it," Lavrov said, according to the text of the interview. "NATO is, in essence, engaged in a war with Russia through an agent, and it is arming that agent. War means war."

On his way to a meeting on Tuesday, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Mark Milley, told reporters that the next several weeks in Ukraine would be "very, very critical."

"They need constant support to achieve success on the battlefield. That is the real goal of this conference."

General Milley said the goal would be to coordinate aid, which includes heavy weapons such as artillery and howitzers and drones and ammunition.

On Sunday, Austin, who visited Kyiv with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, said Monday: "We want to see Russia so weak that it can't do the things it did in invading Ukraine."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has visited Moscow on a peace mission, although Kyiv and Western countries doubt he can achieve much.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that while a diplomatic breakthrough is unlikely, there is hope that Guterres can help the humanitarian situation, especially around Mariupol, where Ukraine says hundreds of civilians are trapped.

"I don't think the Secretary-General will be able to end the war. But he can take a critical path: to arrange a green corridor for defenders and civilians that Russia has closed off in Mariupol."

Kyiv and its allies played down Lavrov's comments on nuclear war. After meeting Lavrov, Russia has lost its "last hope of intimidating the world from supporting Ukraine," Kuleba tweeted. "It just means that Moscow feels defeated."

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby denounced "Lavrov's escalators speech."

"It is unhelpful, not constructive, and certainly does not indicate what a responsible (global power) should do in the public domain," he said. "A nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought. There is no reason for the current conflict in Ukraine ever to reach this level."

To the west of Ukraine, there have been fears of unrest spreading to Moldova, where Russian forces have occupied a breakaway region along the Ukrainian border, Transdniestria, since the 1990s. Explosions early on Tuesday destroyed two radio transmitters following other explosions in Transdniestria on Monday.

Separatist authorities said they were raising their terror threat level to be red, while the Kremlin said it was concerned. Moldova's pro-Western President Mia Sandu has summoned her security officials to the capital, Chisinau.

Sandow's government expressed concern last week after a top Russian general said Moscow aimed to make a route through Ukraine into Transdniestria. He told Russian speakers needed to be protected from persecution. Moldova, a former Soviet country, has close cultural and linguistic ties with NATO member Romania.

Russia was forced to withdraw its massive invasion force from the outskirts of Kyiv last month but has since declared a new war to focus primarily on the east, sending more troops there to launch an attack on two provinces where it supports the separatists.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian General Staff stated that the Russian offensive is continuing in the eastern Kharkiv region, as Russian forces are trying to advance towards a village called Zavodi.

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