Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warns World War 3 would be ‘nuclear and destructive’

Russia would face a “real danger” if Ukraine acquired nuclear weapons, said Russian foreign minister

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Wednesday 02 March 2022 12:31 GMT
Putin puts Russia's nuclear forces on 'high alert'
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Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has warned a third World War would be ‘nuclear and destructive’.

Mr Lavrov has said that Russia, which launched what it calls a special military operation against Ukraine last week, would face a “real danger” if Kyiv acquired nuclear weapons.

It comes after the Russian foreign minister told the Disarmament Conference on Tuesday that every measure was being taken to ensure that Ukraine does not secure nuclear arsenal.

However, the risk of a devastating nuclear war increased last week when Vladmir Putin put Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on high alert, citing “aggressive statements” by NATO and tough financial sanctions.

The move followed a chilling message from the president who warned that anyone who tries to “hinder” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will see “consequences you have never seen in your history”.

Nuclear bomb in Hiroshima, Japan in 1945 which killed an estimated 140,000 people

His warning sparked fears in the international community which were not unwarranted, seeing as the country currently has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world with an estimated 6,255 nukes, according to the Stockholm Peace Institute.

This is larger than the US who have approximately 5,500 nuclear weapons, and all of the seven other countries from China to North Korea.

During Mr Lavrov’s video speech to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, dozens of officials walked out in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine- including those from Britain, the US and the European Union.

The few who stayed behind included China, Syria and Venezuela.

Diplomats walk out en masse as Russian minister addresses Conference on Disarmament

Speaking outside, Ukraine’s UN ambassador, Yevheniia Filipenko, said: “They cannot attack our freedom. We will fight until the end and we will win.

“We feel your support, we greatly appreciate all of your support and the steps we have taken today in international Geneva send a very strong signal to the Russian Federation that such actions are not acceptable and not tolerated in the 21st century.”

Mr Levrov spoke to the council remotely due to what the Russian mission said on Monday were EU states blocking his flight path.

In his speech, he attacked the EU for participating in a “Russophobic frenzy” by supplying Ukraine with weaponry to fight against Russia’s military invasion.

Ambassadors and diplomats walk out while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's (on screen) pre-recorded video message i

Among the UN diplomats who walked out were Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly and Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod.

Explaining why they staged the walkout, Ms Joly said: “Minister Lavrov was giving his version, which is false, about what is happening in Ukraine and so that’s why we wanted to show a very strong stance together.”

This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Even neutral Switzerland imposed financial sanctions on Lavrov on Monday, a measure of the international revulsion over an invasion Russia describes as a “special military operation” aimed at dislodging “neo-Nazis” ruling Ukraine.

The U.S. envoy to the Human Rights Council, Michele Taylor, said in a statement: “This Russian war of aggression will have profound implications for human rights in Ukraine and Russia, and the leaders of Russia will be held accountable.”

Follow our latest coverage of Russia-Ukraine news here.

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