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Accusing NATO of engaging in a proxy war, Russia has said that there is a serious and real risk of nuclear war over Ukraine. 

“The danger is serious, real. It can’t be underestimated," said Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov asked on state television about the importance of avoiding World War Three. 

“NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war," he said. 

Invoking the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, when the US and the Soviet Union came close to nuclear war, Moscow and Washington had understood the rules of conduct between the superpowers, he said: “Now there are few rules left."

However, he also mentioned that Russia will continue negotiations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s representatives to try to reach a peace agreement.

It would be “useful" to hold discussions with the US too, “but we don’t observe any interest on their part regarding contacts on Ukraine or on other issues," said Lavrov.

Both sides have said the talks are at a dead end.

Lavrov has previously warned of the risks of a nuclear confrontation too, even as he has repeatedly declared that Russia’s “principled" position is the “inadmissibility of nuclear war." 

He isn’t responsible for military decision-making in Russia and hasn’t explained how he believes a nuclear conflict would begin.

His recent remarks came after US defense secretary LLoyd Austin said on Monday in Kyiv that Washington wants to see Russian forces “weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine." 

The US announced additional military aid for Ukraine as the war enters its 62nd day with Russian and Ukrainian armies facing off in the eastern Donbas region, where Moscow has regrouped its forces after failing to take Kyiv early in the invasion.

Austin is also set to convene a meeting of more than 40 countries at a German airbase to discuss arming Ukraine.

Germany will allow delivery of 50 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine in its first step to supply heavy weapons to counter Russia’s invasion.

UN talks with Russia

United Nations Secretary-General Antonia Guterres is in Moscow on Tuesday to meet President Vladimir Putin and Lavrov, the highest-profile peace mission since the war began, although Western countries have said they have little hope of a breakthrough.

Russia's two-month-old invasion of Ukraine has left thousands dead or injured, reduced towns and cities to rubble, and forced more than 5 million people to flee abroad.

Moscow calls its actions a "special operation" to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West call this a false pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression.

In his latest daily video address, Zelenskyy said Russia “will lose" the war and called on Ukrainians to “think every day about how to make the occupiers’ presence on our land even more unbearable."

With inputs from agencies. 

 

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