Russia said on Tuesday, 26, that it killed 500 Ukrainian soldiers in an offensive on the night of Monday, 25. Ukraine did not confirm this information. According to Vladimir Putin’s government, in all, Moscow has hit 87 military targets since the start of the conflict in February.
The country also accused the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) western military alliance of engaging in a proxy battle that created a serious risk of nuclear waras Washington rallied its allies on Tuesday at a German air base to pledge the heavy weapons Ukraine needs to achieve victory.
With Russian forces forced back from Kiev and now attempting a new advance into eastern Ukraine, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hosted officials from more than 40 countries in Ramstein, the seat of US air power in Europe. .
“As we see this morning, nations across the world are united in our determination to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s imperial aggression,” Austin said. “Ukraine clearly believes it can win, as does everyone here.”
In an escalation of Russian rhetoric, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was asked on state TV about the prospect of World War III and whether the current situation was comparable to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which nearly caused a nuclear war.
“The risks are now considerable,” Lavrov said, according to the ministry’s transcript of the interview. “The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it,” said Lavrov. “NATO, in essence, is engaged in a proxy war with Russia and is arming that representative. War means war.”
US officials shifted emphasis this week to talk of a Ukrainian victory that would deal a blow to Russia’s ability to threaten neighbors in the future.
Austin, who visited Kiev with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday, said on Monday: “We want to see Russia weakened to the point where it cannot do the kind of thing it did in invading Ukraine.”
US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, flying to Tuesday’s meeting, told reporters that the next few weeks in Ukraine will be “very, very critical”.
“They need ongoing support to be successful on the battlefield. And that’s really the point of this conference.”
The aim would be to coordinate aid that includes heavy weapons such as howitzer artillery, as well as lethal drones and ammunition, General Milley said.
See also: Ukraine before and after the war in pictures
Kiev and its allies played down Lavrov’s comments about nuclear war.
Russia has lost its “last hope of scaring the world,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted after Lavrov’s interview. “It just means that Moscow feels defeat.”
British Armed Services Minister James Heappey called Lavrov’s remarks an example of “bravado” that has become the “trademark” of Russia’s foreign minister. “I don’t think there’s an imminent threat of escalation right now,” Heappey told BBC.
* With information from the Reuters agency