Attacks begin in new country as Russia warns nuclear threat is ‘real’

Russia’s foreign minister has warned Western powers not to underestimate the “real” risk of nuclear conflict if they continue to arm Ukraine in what he says is an unauthorized proxy war. declare.

Within hours of his speech, explosions were heard inside Moldova’s sovereign borders. Ukrainian officials believe Russia is launching “false flag” operations in the Transnistria region controlled by pro-Russian rebels to justify expanding their imperial offensive into a second country.

The warning from Sergei Lavrov, in a state TV interview on Monday night, represents an escalation of rhetoric from the Kremlin in the face of an increasingly assertive international response to the crisis. Ukraine.

His comments drew a harsh response from Foreign Minister Lavrov’s counterpart in Kyiv, Dmytro Kuleba, who said that Russia had lost “the last hope to frighten the world in favor of Ukraine… only means that Moscow perceives defeat in Ukraine.”

Lavrov, a veteran of Russian diplomacy, was asked in an interview about the risk that the Ukraine crisis could turn into a nuclear conflict, as happened with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

“The risk now is substantial,” he said. “I don’t want to artificially raise those risks. Many people like that. The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it,” Lavrov said.

“In essence, NATO enters a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war”.

Lavrov spoke a day after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Foreign Minister Antony Blinken met face-to-face in Kyiv with President Volodymyr Zelensky, promising more military aid.

After initial hesitations from the Biden administration, reluctance to send weapons to Ukraine only to have them end up in Russian hands, the US is now embracing Kyiv, hoping that victory for Ukraine may be in vain. neutralize Russia’s conventional army a threat to a generation.

On Tuesday, Austin is scheduled to host a meeting of 40 allied defense ministers at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to coordinate the international response to Russian aggression and ensure a steady supply of supplies. heavy weapons, air defense systems and ammunition for the Ukrainian army. .

The Russian invasion was launched two months ago, on February 24, after President Vladimir Putin ordered a “special operation” to “denuclearize” Ukraine and liberate towns and cities. Russian-speaking town.

The original plan, devised by Putin and his generals, was that the Ukrainian capital Kyiv would be in Russian hands within three or four days, with Zelensky either killed or fleeing town.

Five weeks later, with thousands of Russians killed and their forces ravaged by tactically superior Ukrainian defenses, Russia was forced to concede defeat in the battle for Kyiv and refocus the fight. More obvious attack in southern and eastern Ukraine to gain control of Donbas and create. a land bridge from southern Russia along the Black Sea coast to Odesa.

Another element of Russia’s war plan became clearer last week when a Russian general, Rustam Minnekaev, suggested that the proposed “land corridor” would extend as far as Moldova, cutting off employment entirely. Ukraine’s maritime access.

Under those plans, Russian military control would extend as far as Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region, where Russian-backed separatists declared independence 30 years ago and where Russia still has bases military.

Moldova, which is constitutionally neutral, has done its best not to get drawn into the conflict – but Russia seems determined to woo the former Soviet republic, located just west of Ukraine.

On Monday, attackers fired rocket grenades at an empty security service building in Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria. Officials in Moldova and Ukraine dismissed this as a “false flag” operation by Russia. A discarded RPG launcher at the scene, of the type used by Russia but not Ukraine, clearly bears the designation “Z”.

Early Tuesday, explosions destroyed two nearby communication towers used for rebroadcasting Russian radio and television stations around the area — not a target the Russians would choose to provoke. .

The breakaway region, which has been funded by Russia for decades, has a population of nearly half a million people, a third of whom identify as Russian, but is populated by Moldovans and Ukrainians. Long lines were quickly erected at the main border crossing to Moldova following Tuesday’s attacks, fueled by fears that the Russians might try to mobilize locals to help fight in Ukraine. .

Later Tuesday, Putin will meet in Moscow with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres – to the anger of the Ukrainian government, which says he is not in a position to negotiate on their behalf. Attacks begin in new country as Russia warns nuclear threat is ‘real’


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