Russian foreign minister says possibility of nuclear conflict and outbreak of World War III over Ukraine is 'serious, real'

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  • Sergey Lavrov said the threat of nuclear conflict over Russia's war in Ukraine was "serious."

  • The Russian foreign minister also said NATO was "in essence" already in a proxy war with Russia.

  • Ukraine's foreign minister said the comments were meant to "scare the world off supporting Ukraine."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned the West on Monday that staying involved in the Russia-Ukraine war posed "serious" and "real" risks of a World War III.

During a broadcast on state television, Lavrov was asked about the importance of avoiding World War III and whether US-Russia tensions could be compared to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, according to Reuters.

"I would not want to elevate those risks artificially. Many would like that. The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it," Lavrov replied, per Reuters.

He also, however, was said to have portrayed Russia as a nation striving to reduce any risk of nuclear war.

At the same time, Lavrov also accused NATO of having "in essence engaged in war" with Russia by supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine, the BBC reported.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba seemed to dismiss Lavrov's comments as a bluff, tweeting that they were meant to "scare the world off supporting Ukraine."

"Thus the talk of a 'real' danger of WWIII. This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine," Kuleba wrote.

Lavrov had previously issued veiled warnings about nuclear war in light of the invasion of Ukraine.

In early March, two weeks after President Vladimir Putin placed Russia's nuclear forces on high alert, Lavrov said World War III would involve nuclear weapons if it took place.

He later downplayed the possibility of the Ukraine conflict escalating into a nuclear war but accused the US and NATO of continually bringing up the topic.

While the US and the UK are now sending advanced weapons and artillery to Ukraine, there appears to have been no official change in Russia's nuclear posture since February.

Lavrov has been described as a propaganda mouthpiece for Putin. He said in March that Russia "did not attack Ukraine" and justified a Russian strike on a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol by claiming without evidence that the facility had been taken over by Ukraine's far-right Azov Regiment.

Read the original article on Business Insider