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 fuel on the fire”, and it was dangerous to have a nuclear conflict. “
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 still claims innocent civilian lives, even though Russian officials insist they are only attacking military infrastructure.
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, the fighting is not over for Kharkiv’s remaining inhabitants or firefighters. Russia said its latest strikes killed 500 Ukrainian troops. Although this cannot be verified independently, it’s clear that the fighting on the front lines has escalated.
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.
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 war-torn country. You’ll find fabric softener on one side, a refugee camp in another and even a café that has been turned 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. According to him, 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. My wife and her younger sister were killed by the missile. The hospital told me to take my wife to it, but then they said that I didn’t have to. “What does that mean?” I inquired. I asked them what they meant. They said she was already dead. She was dead. I could not even burrow her. Two days later, corpses lay on the streets in our city. The Russians wouldn’t allow us to bury them.
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!’
- He said that Russian-allied forces had held him captive for two days, “handcuffed” and then pointed the gun at me, saying: “We’ll shoot you now!” 945Zubkov’s (18-year-old daughter, who was a student in Kyiv at the time of war, said that they had killed her mother.
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 doesn’t.
“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. “
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. He said, “The first question I asked him was whether I could continue playing soccer and fighting 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 mine country. It’s my country. It is my country. “
Asked whether he had told his mother that he’d been hit, he said not yet. He did not want to bother her.
“I called her this morning from the nurse’s phone, because I know the phone number of my mom by heart. She said that she had not called me in so many days because my phone was stolen. CBS News reported that his mom, who is sensitive to my feelings, would drive three hours to get to her from Lviv, Zaporizhzhia and back to meet 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 scared, but I don’t want to be in a conflict. Russians invaded my country, and they sought to kill my Ukrainian brothers and sisters. He said that they came to destroy my country. He said, “I did not know how to fight. Never ever had I held a weapon in my hands before February 24th. When the war began, I realized that I needed to go 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, however, he said that he wanted them to leave Ukraine and didn’t mince words.
Hnativ also had a message for the United States: “Help us! We need weapons. We will prevail. “
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