Chris Lange, FISM News
Russia’s top diplomat escalated the Kremlin’s rhetoric by once again raising the specter of potential nuclear conflict.
Asked on state TV about the potential for World War III, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, “The risks now are considerable,” according to the ministry’s transcript of the interview. Lavrov accused the West of engaging in a proxy war against Russia which he said could escalate the conflict to a world war involving nuclear weapons.
“The risk is serious, real. It should not be underestimated,” Lavrov said in the interview. “NATO is, in essence, going to war with Russia through a proxy and arming that proxy,” he added, referring to shipments of military munitions flowing into Ukraine from the U.S. and other nations.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba dismissed Lavrov’s comments as an effort to intimidate countries that are supporting Ukraine.
“This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter. “Therefore, the world must double down on supporting Ukraine so that we prevail and safeguard European and global security.”
Russia loses last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine. Thus the talk of a ‘real’ 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 (@DmytroKuleba) April 25, 2022
Despite his alarming message, Lavrov said peace negotiations with the Ukrainian delegation would continue.
Blinken, Austin say Ukraine ‘can win’
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with officials representing over 40 countries, including Ukraine, at the U.S. Air Force headquarters in Ramstein, Germany on Monday, following their weekend meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
Secretary Austin said that, as long as Ukraine has access to the right equipment, it can win the war. The U.S. and other allies have sent billions of dollars in military aid to Kyiv since Russia first invaded, though Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy says he needs more.
“As we see this morning, nations from around the world stand united in our resolve to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s imperial aggression,” Austin said, according to a Pentagon transcript of a post-meeting briefing. “Ukraine clearly believes that it can win, and so does everyone here,” he added.
Blinken said the U.S. has shown its commitment to Ukraine with $3.7 billion in military defense munitions and humanitarian aid since the start of the war and, more recently, the White House’s decision to send American diplomats back to Kyiv. Blinken also referenced President Biden’s nomination of Trump-appointed U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, Bridget Brink, as the new ambassador to Ukraine.
“The strategy that we’ve put in place – massive support for Ukraine, massive pressure against Russia, solidarity with more than 30 countries engaged in these efforts – is having real results,” Blinken said. “And we’re seeing that when it comes to Russia’s war aims, Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding,” he continued, noting that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been unsuccessful in achieving his goals of destroying Ukraine’s sovereignty and asserting Russia’s military and economic power.
“The bottom line is this. We don’t know how the rest of this war will unfold, but we do know that a sovereign, independent Ukraine will be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin is on the scene. And our support for Ukraine going forward will continue. It will continue until we see final success,” Blinken added.
Russia strikes Ukrainian infrastructure targets, steps up attacks in Donbas
Moscow unleashed a string of attacks on rail and fuel installations deep inside Ukraine overnight, targeting critical infrastructure far from the front lines of Moscow’s new offensive in the East. Four people were killed and nine more were wounded Monday as a result of Russian shelling in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, the Associated Press reported. The region’s governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on Telegram early Tuesday that two of the victims were a 9-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, though it was not immediately clear whether they were wounded or killed in the attack.
Elsewhere, Luhansk region Governor Serhiy Haidai said Russian forces have shelled civilians 17 times over the past 24 hours, focusing mostly on the cities of Girske, Lysychansk, and Popasna.
“Popasna withstood four powerful artillery attacks, and Lysychansk withstood two. There is damage to two houses in Lysychansk, two in Popasna, at least one in Girske. We are checking the information about the victims,” Haidai said Tuesday on Telegram, according to the AP report.
In the Donbas region, Ukraine’s General Staff said its forces repelled six Russian attacks in the past 24 hours in Ukraine’s industrial heartland, adding that the Ukrainian army destroyed four Russian tanks, five artillery systems, over a dozen armored vehicle units, 15 units of motor vehicles, two tankers, and one anti-aircraft gun according to the update.
Russian forces also continued to shell Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. Meanwhile, Kremlin troops still surround the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, the last remaining stronghold of the Ukrainian forces in the besieged port city. Although the sprawling structure has been destroyed, it houses a vast network of underground tunnels where some 2,000 Ukrainian troops and 1,000 civilians remain.
Ukraine’s General Staff on Tuesday said its forces destroyed a Russian ammunition depot and “eliminated” more than 70 Russian troops in a village in the Kherson region largely controlled by the Russians.
Elsewhere, Britain’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday said Russian forces have taken control of the city of Kreminna in Ukraine’s Luhansk region, where bloody, street-to-street fighting has been going on for days.
“The city of Kreminna has reportedly fallen and heavy fighting is reported south of Izium as Russian forces attempt to advance towards the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk from the north and east,” the Defense Ministry tweeted.
A map of the approximate situation on the ground in Ukraine as of 00:00 UTC 26/04/22. pic.twitter.com/ht1T17tRC5
— Ukraine War Map (@War_Mapper) April 26, 2022