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

Joe Radle

The Russian foreign minister has warned Western powers not to underestimate the “real” risk of nuclear conflict if they continue to supply weapons to Ukraine, which he says is an undeclared proxy. war.

A few hours after his speech, explosions were heard in the sovereign borders of Moldova. Ukrainian officials believe that Russia is conducting “false flag” operations in the pro-Russian rebel-controlled enclave of Transnistria to justify expanding its imperialist offensive into the second country.

Sergei Lavrov’s warning in an interview on state television late Monday night is dramatic rhetoric. escalation from the Kremlin in the face of an increasingly assertive international response to the Ukrainian crisis.

His comments provoked a sharp reaction from Lavrov’s colleague in Kyiv, Dmitry Kuleba, who said that Russia had lost “the last hope of scaring the world away from supporting Ukraine… It only means that Moscow feels defeated in Ukraine.”

The embarrassing truth about Putin’s military failures

Lavrov, a stony-faced veteran of Russian diplomacy, was asked in an interview about the risks of the Ukraine crisis escalating into a nuclear conflict, as the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis almost did.

“The risks are significant now,” he said. “I would not want to artificially increase these risks. Many people would like this. The danger is serious, real. And we should not underestimate him,” Lavrov said.

“NATO, in fact, is waging war with Russia through intermediaries and arming these intermediaries. War is war.”

Lavrov spoke the day after US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke. met face to face in Kyiv with President Volodymyr Zelensky, promising even more military assistance.

After initial hesitation from the Biden administration, unwilling to send weapons to Ukraine’s battlefields only to have them fall into Russian hands, America now fully backs Kyiv, hoping that a Ukrainian victory can neutralize Russian conventional forces. a threat to a generation.

Defense ministers from 40 allies were scheduled to meet in Austin on Tuesday at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to coordinate an international response to Russian aggression and ensure a stable supply of heavy weapons, air defense systems and ammunition for the Ukrainian army. .

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

The original plan, formulated by Putin and his generals, was to have the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in Russian hands within three to four days, with Zelensky either killed or leaving the city.

Five weeks later, with thousands of Russians killed and its forces routed by tactically superior Ukrainian defenders, Russia was forced to concede defeat in the Battle of Kyiv and more clearly refocus its offensive in southern and eastern Ukraine to take control of the Donbass and create a land bridge with south of Russia along the Black Sea coast to Odessa.

Another element of Russia’s military plans became clearer last week, when Russian General Rustam Minnekayev revealed that a proposed “land corridor” would stretch all the way to Moldova, completely cutting off Ukraine’s access to the sea.

Under these plans, Russian military control would extend to the Moldovan breakaway region of Transnistria, where Russian-backed separatists declared independence 30 years ago and where Russia still maintains a military base.

Moldova, constitutionally neutral, has done its best to stay out of the conflict, but Russia appears determined to drag in the former Soviet republic to the west of Ukraine.

On Monday, attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at an empty security building in Tiraspol, the Transnistrian capital. Officials in Moldova and Ukraine dismissed it as a Russian “false flag” operation. A RPG grenade launcher of the type used in Russia and not in Ukraine, which was discarded on the spot, clearly had the symbol “Z”.

Early Tuesday morning, explosions destroyed two nearby communications towers that were used to relay Russian radio and TV stations throughout the region, not targets the Russians would have chosen for provocation.

The breakaway region, which has been financed by Russia for decades, is home to nearly half a million people, a third of whom self-identify as Russian, but there are also large Moldovan and Ukrainian minorities. Long lines quickly formed at the main border crossing into Moldova after Tuesday’s attacks, fueled by fears that the Russians might try to mobilize the local population to help fight in Ukraine.

Putin was scheduled to meet in Moscow with UN Secretary-General António Guterres later Tuesday, drawing the ire of the Ukrainian government, which said it did not have a mandate to negotiate on their behalf.

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