Russia says Ukraine war could go nuclear if West keeps sending weapons

Russia says Ukraine war could go nuclear if West keeps sending weapons thumbnail

Ukrainian shopping mall houses refugees

Ukrainian shopping mall now houses families that have become refugees 02: 44

Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine — Russia’s Foreign Minister said Tuesday that if the U.S. and Ukraine‘s other Western allies continue to arm the country as it battles Moscow’s invading forces, the risk of the war escalating into a nuclear conflict “should not be underestimated.” Russian TV interviewer Sergey Lavrov stated that NATO countries were “pouring oil on a fire” and threatening “World War III” by providing weapons. “

He said the ongoing arms shipments to Ukraine meant NATO was “in essence engaged in war with Russia” already.

The veteran Kremlin diplomat issued his latest warning as U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met in Germany with NATO allies, urging European nations to increase their military aid to Ukraine. Germany’s defense chief announced Tuesday that the country would start sending self-propelled armored anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine.

Foreign solidarity with Ukraine has only grown over the course of Putin’s unprovoked two-month assault, now focused largely on Ukraine’s east. It continues to kill innocent civilians, despite Russian officials insisting that they are only attacking military infrastructure.

APTOPIX Russia Ukraine War
A Ukrainian serviceman walks amid the rubble of a building heavily damaged by multiple Russian bombardments in Kharkiv, Ukraine, A pril 25, 2022. Felipe Dana/AP

Overnight, the Defense Ministry in Moscow said it had hit about 90 more “military” targets in Ukraine, including rail facilities around the battered northeast city of Kharkiv that are vital to Ukrainian supply chains — including the ingress of foreign weapons.

Despite Russia’s overwhelming firepower advantage, Austin said before his meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany that Ukraine could win the war, if it has the “right equipment. “

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba dismissed Lavrov’s remarks about nuclear war as an indication that Moscow already “senses defeat in Ukraine. “

But in Ukraine’s east, the fight is far from over. According to CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata, there has been no rest for Kharkiv’s remaining residents or firefighters. Russia said its latest strikes killed 500 Ukrainian troops. Although this cannot be independently verified, it is clear that the front-line fighting has intensified.

Ukraine’s second largest city had been among the hardest hit this week as Russia increases its onslaught along a 300-mile front line in the east.

Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv
A man reacts next to a burning residential building, following a Russian shelling amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, April 25, 2022. RICARDO MORAES/REUTERS

Some of those who’ve escaped the fighting have taken shelter in a shopping center in the city of Zaporizhzhia. It’s hard to imagine a country at war. You can find fabric softener in one aisle and a refugee tent in another. A cafe has been converted into an emergency room.

D’Agata met Fedor Zubkov, 36, at the mall, taking shelter after losing his wife to Russian shelling.

“We started dating when we were 15 years old,” he said. “She was my first love. “

Zubkov is struggling to cope mentally. He claimed that his village near Zaporizhzhia had been attacked by Russian invaders on the first day.

“Over two days, they killed all those in the territorial defense unit and they destroyed the city center,” he told CBS News. “The missile also killed my wife and her younger sister. I was told to go the hospital, but then people said to me, “You don’t have to go now.” I asked them, “What do you mean?” They said she was dead. I was unable to bury her. Two days later, corpses were left on the streets of our town. The Russians wouldn’t allow us to bury them.

Fedor Zubkov, 36, speaks to CBS News at a shopping center in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhia being used to shelter people fleeing front-line areas during Russia’s invasion. Zubkov claimed that a Russian strike had killed his wife shortly after Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion in Ukraine. CBS News

He said Russian-allied forces held him captive for two days, “handcuffed, and they were pointing the gun at me and said: ‘We’ll shoot you now!’

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Zubkov’s 18-year-old daughter, whose college studies in Kyiv were derailed by the war, now wants to move to the U.S. Zubkov said he doesn’t even know how she’s coping with the loss of her mother. He is not.

“I need to see the psychiatrist, because after the imprisonment and the loss of my beloved wife, I am slowly losing my mind,” he told D’Agata. “You can’t even imagine what it is like to be tortured, when 30 fully armored Chechen men stand in front of you, point the gun at you and threaten to kill you again and again. “

Russia intensifies bombardment in eastern Ukraine 07: 29

D’Agata and his team visited a military hospital near the shopping center, where they met Nazik Hnativ. After volunteering to fight when the war broke out, the 27-year-old radio host from the western city of Lviv found himself right in the middle of the most brutal fighting in the east.

On Saturday, an artillery round tore through both of his legs and an arm.

“I thought I lost my leg and wouldn’t be able to play soccer,” he said. “The first thing that I asked him was if he could play soccer again — and fight again. “

D’Agata asked him through a translator if he really wanted to return to the front lines after being so badly wounded.

“Of course, of course,” he said. It is my country. It is my country. It is my country. “

Nazik Hnativ, 27, was a radio host in Lviv before he volunteered to fight Russia’s invading troops. With scant training and no experience, he was sent to the front lines in eastern Ukraine, where an artillery round left him with injuries to an arm and both legs on April 23, 2022. CBS News

Asked whether he had told his mother that he’d been hit, he said not yet. He didn’t want her to be worried.

“I called her this morning from the nurse’s phone, because I know the phone number of my mom by heart. I told her that I had not called her in so long because my phone was stolen. She said that my mom would drive three minutes from Zaporizhzhia to Lviv in order to see me. “

Hnativ admitted that it was “scary” to find himself facing Russia’s military might without any military experience or real training.

“I am not saying that I am fearless. I’m also afraid and have never wanted to be in a conflict. But Russians invaded my country, they came to kill me and my sisters, my fellow Ukrainians. He said that they came to destroy my nation. He said, “I didn’t know how fight. Never ever had I held a weapon in my hands before February 24th. When the war began, I realized that I needed to be on the field and protect my country. “

D’Agata asked the wounded soldier if he had a message for Russia. It is not possible to reprint it but he said that he wanted them to leave Ukraine and he did not mince his words.

Hnativ also had a message for the United States: “Help us! Send us weapons! We will win. “

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