Russia warns Ukraine: Don't "provoke" WWIII

Russia warns Ukraine: Don't "provoke" WWIII
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov seems intent on putting The Onion and the Babylon Bee out of business. In remarks delivered this morning, Lavrov warned the government of Ukraine not to “provoke” his country, otherwise, the current fighting could escalate to nuclear warfare and the start of World War 3. Apparently, fighting back when you’re country is being invaded qualifies as a “provocation” in Russian propaganda circles now. More specifically, Lavrov was blaming Zelensky for asking NATO for more offensive weaponry. Such weapons shipments would be considered “legitimate targets” to be struck by Russian attacks, but both Ukraine and its NATO backers are “pouring oil on the fire” by sending in more hardware. (Associated Press)

In an apparent response to [Lloyd] Austin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia has “a feeling that the West wants Ukraine to continue to fight and, as it seems to them, wear out, exhaust the Russian army and the Russian military industrial war complex. This is an illusion.”

Weapons supplied by Western countries “will be a legitimate target,” said Lavrov, who accused Ukrainian leaders of provoking Russia by asking NATO to become involved in the conflict. NATO forces are “pouring oil on the fire,” Lavrov said, according to a transcript on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.

“Everyone is reciting incantations that in no case can we allow World War III,” he said in a Russian television interview. Lavrov said he would not want to see risks of a nuclear confrontation “artificially inflated now, when the risks are rather significant.”

Russian attacks are not limited to the Donbas region. Showing more coordination than they had in the early stages of the war, Russian missile attacks hit five train stations and multiple sections of rail lines. This was a clear effort to prevent Ukraine from moving more personnel and equipment to the eastern front. They also struck a train station in Lviv, very close to the Polish border. That’s a staging point for much of the incoming NATO aid to the country.

The Russian spokesperson also claimed that they had destroyed an oil refinery and multiple fuel depots in Kremenchuk, in central Ukraine. Reporters were unable to verify those claims this morning, but if true, that would impact Kyiv’s ability to keep its troops in the Donbas region supplied as the fighting intensifies. So it at least appears that the Russian army has gotten its command and control situation a little more functional than it was during that assault on Kyiv. But that doesn’t mean that the Ukrainians aren’t still inflicting heavy losses. Russian jets and helicopters are still “falling out of the sky” according to reporters who are on the ground there.

Meanwhile, in some additional bad news, the British Ministry of Defense claimed last night that the city of Kreminna had effectively fallen to the Russians. Further, they have made some significant headway in advancing toward the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. In those areas, the Russians appear to be successfully coordinating a pincer attack, with coordinated units approaching simultaneously from the north and the east. This is a far more effective execution of their offensive strategy than was seen anywhere around Kyiv. It makes me sad to say it, but declarations of a complete defeat for Putin’s forces, at least in the eastern region of the country, may have been premature.

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John Sexton 10:40 PM on May 30, 2023