Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Western efforts to punish nuclear powers like Russia for the war in Ukraine posed a threat to humanity, as nearly five months of conflict have devastated cities and left thousands homeless.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has created the most serious crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when many feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war.
U.S. President Joe Biden says Russian President Vladimir Putin is a war criminal and has led the West in arming Ukraine and imposing disability sanctions on Russia.
“The idea of punishing a country with the largest nuclear capability is foolish. And the very existence of humanity is threatened, “Medvedev, now vice-president of the Russian Security Council, said in a telegram on Wednesday.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia and the United States control about 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenal, with about 4,000 warheads in their military stockpiles.
Mentioning the massacre of Native Americans, the US nuclear attack on Japan, and the many wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan, Medvedev cast the United States as an empire that shed blood around the world.
Attempts to use courts or tribunals to investigate Russia’s actions in Ukraine would be in vain and there would be a threat of global catastrophe, Medvedev said. Ukraine and its Western allies say Russian troops have been involved in war crimes.
Putin called it a “special military operation” to destroy Ukraine’s military, calling it a “dangerous nationalist” and protecting Russian speakers in the country.
Ukraine and its allies say Russia began usurping imperial-style land, leading to the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II.
After failing to capture the capital Kyiv early, Russia is now waging war for the Donbas region of Ukraine, parts of which are controlled by Russian separatist proxies.
On Sunday, Putin claimed his biggest victory since Ukrainian troops withdrew from Luhansk province. Russian forces then launched an attack on the neighboring province of Donetsk. Donbass is in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Russia says it wants control of the eastern and large industrial areas on behalf of Moscow-backed separatists in the two self-proclaimed People’s Republics.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian forces said they had so far blocked any major Russian advance north of Donetsk, but pressure was mounting on the Sloviansk city and nearby populated areas due to heavy shelling.
It says Russian forces have bombed several Ukrainian cities with heavy weapons so that the ground forces can advance south into the region and get closer to Sloviansk.
“The enemy is trying to improve its tactical position … (it) advanced … before our troops retreated and retreated after suffering losses,” the Ukrainian army said in its evening note.
Other Russian forces have said they intend to seize the two cities, which lead to the southern Slovian city of Kramatorsk, and are also trying to seize the main highway connecting the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk.
“We (Luhansk / Donetsk) are stopping the enemy on the border,” Luhansk Governor Serhi Gadai told Ukrainian TV. Later, he said that Luhansk was still not fully occupied by Russian forces and that Russia had suffered “huge losses.”
“They will keep trying to move on to Sloviansk and Bachmut. There is no doubt about it, ”he said.
Sloviansk Mayor Vadyam Liakh said in a video briefing that the city had been under fire for the past two weeks.
“The situation is tense,” he said, adding that 17 residents have been killed there since February 24.
Russia’s Defense Ministry says it is not targeting civilians and on Wednesday said it was using high-precision weapons to eliminate military threats.
Ukraine has repeatedly called for more weapons to be sent to the West to repel the onslaught of thousands killed, millions displaced and flattened cities.
“Finally, the Western artillery has begun to work harder, the weapons we are getting from our partners. And they need accuracy, “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message last night.
‘No safe zone’
In the city of Donetsk in Kramatorsk, which Russian troops are trying to seize in the coming weeks, Ukrainian soldiers and a handful of civilians were working in green cars and vans on Wednesday. Most of the population is gone.
“It simply came to our notice then. It’s scary, “said Alexander, a 64-year-old retired metal worker. Despite the increase in missile attacks, it is unlikely to follow official advice to get it out, he said.
“I’m not looking for death, but it’s better to be at home if I can find it,” he said.
Outside of Donbass, Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, was subject to “continuous” long-range Russian firing, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on Ukrainian TV.
“Russia is trying to demoralize Kharkiv, but it will not get anywhere,” he said. Ukrainian guards pushed back Russian armored forces from Kharkiv at the start of the war, and Terekhov said about 1 million residents remained there.
To the south of Kharkiv, the governor of Dnipropetrovsk said the region was plagued by missiles and shelling, while heavy shelling was also taking place at the port of Mykolaiv on the southern coast, its mayor, Alexander Senkevich, said in a briefing.
“There are no safe areas in Mykolaiv,” he said. “I’m telling people … that they should leave.”
Reuters is unable to immediately verify battle reports.
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