Moscow: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday warned that a third World War, should it break out, will be “nuclear and devastating”, amid spiralling tensions with the West over Moscow’s ongoing massive military operation against Ukraine.
“A third World War would be a devastating nuclear war, Russia’s longtime top diplomat said in an interview to the Al Jazeera television channel, according to state-owned TASS news agency.
Also, Lavrov stressed US President Joe Biden’s remark that a third World War would be an alternative to Washington’s tough sanctions against Moscow.
Lavrov said that Russia was ready for sanctions that were imposed against it, but was surprised that the penalties affected athletes and journalists.
“We were ready for sanctions but did not expect that they would affect athletes, intellectuals, actors and journalists, he said, referring to the ban and sanctions by Western countries.
In his maiden State of the Union address, President Biden on Tuesday night accused his Russian counterpart of waging a “premeditated and unprovoked” war against Ukraine, asserting that “dictators” like Vladimir Putin would “pay a price” for “invading” a foreign country.
The US has joined the European Union in banning Russian flights from its airspace in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine.
Lavrov said the special operation against Ukraine was launched with the aim of preventing Kyiv from obtaining nuclear weapons, the Qatar-based news channel reported.
“The military operation in Ukraine, including Kyiv, is aimed at disarming Ukraine. Russia will not let Ukraine obtain nuclear weapons,” he was quoted as saying by the channel.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has said that Kyiv might revise its obligations under the Budapest Memorandum, by which Ukraine had agreed to give away nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees.
Lavrov said that Russia is ready for the second round of talks, but the Ukrainian side is delaying the process under command from the Americans.
Earlier on Tuesday, Lavrov said that the West should not establish military facilities on the territory of former USSR states that are not members of NATO.
In a video address to the Disarmament Conference in Geneva, he also emphasised that Moscow believes that obtaining legally binding security guarantees from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members is of paramount importance.
Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards the European Union and the West’s defensive military alliance, NATO.
In a pre-dawn TV address on February 24, President Putin declared that Russia could not feel “safe, develop and exist” because of what he claimed was a constant threat from modern Ukraine.
Putin claimed that his goal was to protect people subjected to bullying and genocide and aim for the “demilitarisation and de-Nazification” of Ukraine.
Also read | Putin was wrong, US is ready: Biden in first State of the Union Address
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