As his country launched assaults targeting rail and fuel infrastructure distant from the front lines of Moscow’s new eastern operation, Russia’s top diplomat warned Ukraine against inciting World Armageddon III and said the possibility of nuclear war “should not be underestimated.”
Meanwhile, the British Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday that Russian soldiers had gained control of the Ukrainian city of Kreminna in the Lukansk area following days of street-to-street battle.
In a tweet, the British military said, “The city of Kreminna has allegedly fallen and intense combat is reported south of Izium as Russian forces seek to move towards the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk from the north and east.” It did not specify how it learned of the city’s collapse, which is located 575 kilometers (355 miles) southeast of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. The Ukrainian administration did not respond right away.
The United States has been shipping additional equipment to Ukraine, claiming that Western friends’ support is making a difference in the two-month-old conflict.
“Russia is in trouble. “Ukraine is prospering,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed Monday after a daring visit to Kyiv to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alongside the US Secretary of Defense.
According to Blinken, Washington has approved a $165 million ammunition sale — non-US ammunition, mostly but not exclusively for Ukraine’s Soviet-era weaponry — and will also contribute more than $300 million in finance to purchase further supplies.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin went even farther, stating that the US wants Ukraine to remain an independent, democratic country while also “seeing Russia degraded to the point where it can’t do things like attack Ukraine.”
Austin’s words appeared to signal a reversal in US strategic intentions, since the US had previously stated that the goal of military aid to Ukraine was to help it win and to safeguard Ukraine’s NATO neighbors from Russian threats.
In an apparent reaction to Austin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that Russia had “a feeling that the West wants Ukraine to keep fighting and, as it appears to them, tire out, exhaust the Russian army and military industrial war complex. This is a deception.”
Western-supplied weaponry “will be a legitimate target,” Lavrov said, adding that Russian forces were targeting weapons storage facilities in western Ukraine.
Ukraine’s authorities, according to Lavrov, provoked Russia by urging NATO to intervene in the crisis. He claimed that NATO has basically “entered a war with Russia through proxies and is arming those proxies.” According to a translation on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website, NATO soldiers are “pouring gasoline on the fire.”
In a Russian television interview, he declared, “Everyone is saying incantations that in no way can we allow World War III.”
Lavrov stated that he does not want to see nuclear-weapons-related concerns “artificially increased now, when the risks are rather real.”
He stated, “The threat is grave.” “It’s true. It is not to be taken lightly.”
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, stated on Twitter that Lavrov’s remarks highlight Ukraine’s need for Western assistance: “Russia’s final chance to deter the international community from helping Ukraine has passed.” As a result, there is talk of a’real’ threat of WWIII. This can only suggest that Moscow perceives a loss in Ukraine.”
On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine, ostensibly with the intention of capturing Kyiv, the country’s capital. However, with the support of Western armaments, the Ukrainians pushed President Vladimir Putin’s army to retire.
Moscow now declares its intention to seize the Donbas, an industrial region in eastern Ukraine dominated by Russian speakers. Both sides claim the battle is beginning, but Russia has yet to launch a full-fledged ground attack or achieve any significant victories.
Russia’s firepower was redirected elsewhere on Monday, with missiles and bombers bombing deep beyond the front lines in an attempt to sabotage Ukrainian supply attempts.
According to Oleksandr Kamyshin, the chief of Ukraine’s state railway, five railroad stations in central and western Ukraine were attacked, and one worker was murdered. A missile assault in Lviv, a western city near the Polish border that has swollen with Ukrainians fleeing conflict elsewhere, was part of the bombardment.
Russian attacks in the central Vynnytsia area killed at least five persons, according to Ukrainian authorities.
According to Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, Russia also attacked an oil refinery and gasoline stockpiles in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine. According to him, Russian jets damaged 56 Ukrainian sites.
The raids on gasoline stations, according to Philip Breedlove, a former US general who served as NATO’s top commander from 2013 to 2016, are intended to deplete crucial Ukrainian combat resources. Strikes against rail targets, on the other hand, constitute a “legal” attempt to interrupt supply lines, according to him.
“The illegitimate reason is that they know people are attempting to flee the country, and this is simply another intimidation, terrorism measure to make them distrust train travel.”
The conflict is settling into a campaign of incremental combat losses and wins, according to Phillips P. O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
“Every day, the two sides are undermining one other,” he remarked.
Several explosions damaged the Ministry of State Security in Transnistria, a breakaway enclave of Moldova near the Ukrainian border, suspected to be triggered by rocket-propelled grenades. There was no immediate claim of responsibility made, and no casualties were reported. Transnistria is a landlocked country with a population of around 470,000 people. There are around 1,500 Russian troops stationed there.
“The goal of today’s event is to generate pretexts for straining the security situation in the Transnistrian area,” Moldova’s Foreign Ministry said. Russia may execute “false-flag” operations against its own people to provide a pretext for invading other countries, according to the US.
Rustam Minnekayev, a Russian military commander, claimed last week that the Kremlin wants full control of southern Ukraine to allow Transnistria to gain independence.
Approximately 2,000 Ukrainian troops are holed up in a steel mill in Mariupol, a crucial southern port city, preventing Russian forces from joining the onslaught elsewhere in the Donbas. Russian military conducted additional airstrikes on the Azovstal plant over the weekend in an attempt to remove the stragglers.
A total of 1,000 people were estimated to be sheltering in the steelworks.
A fresh mass grave has been discovered roughly 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Mariupol, according to the municipal council and mayor. Authorities are attempting to assess the number of victims, according to Mayor Vadym Boychenko. In the recent week, at least three more mass graves have been unearthed in Russian-controlled regions around Mariupol.
Over the last two months, Mariupol has been ravaged by bombing and brutal street warfare. The city’s seizure would deprive Ukraine of a key port and provide Moscow with a land passage to the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
While Russia steals Ukraine’s resources, Zelenskyy said Ukraine is sustaining its fight to “make the occupiers’ presence in our nation even more uncomfortable.”
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, Britain estimates that 15,000 Russian servicemen have been killed. 25 percent of the Russian military troops dispatched to Ukraine, according to Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, “have been rendered non-combat effective.”
As of mid-April, Ukrainian officials estimated that 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed.