Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said attempts by the West to punish a nuclear power like Russia for the war in Ukraine could endanger humanity as the nearly five-month-long conflict leaves cities in ruins and thousands homeless.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 led to the most serious crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when many people feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war.
US President Joe Biden says Russian President Vladimir Putin is a war criminal and has led the West in arming Ukraine and imposing crippling sanctions against Russia.
“The idea of punishing a country that has one of the greatest nuclear capabilities is absurd. And potentially poses a threat to the survival of humanity,” Medvedev, now deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, said on Wednesday. Telegram.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia and the United States control about 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads, with about 4,000 warheads each in their military stockpiles.
Medvedev called the United States an empire that had shed blood around the world, citing the killing of Native Americans, US nuclear attacks on Japan, and a myriad of wars ranging from Vietnam to Afghanistan.
Attempts to use courts or tribunals to investigate Russia’s actions in Ukraine would be futile, Medvedev said, and lead to global devastation. Ukraine and its western allies say Russian troops have committed war crimes.
Putin launched his invasion, calling it a “special military operation,” to demilitarize Ukraine, wipe out what he believed to be dangerous nationalists, and protect Russian speakers in that country.
Ukraine and its allies say Russia has launched an imperial-style land grab, sparking the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II.
After Russia failed to take the capital Kiev early, Russia is now waging a war of attrition for Ukraine’s Donbas region, parts of which are controlled by Russian separatist proxies.
Putin won his biggest victory on Sunday when Ukrainian troops withdrew from Luhansk province. Russian forces then launched an offensive to take the neighboring province of Donetsk. Donetsk and Luhansk together form the Donbas.
Russia says it wants to take control of the eastern and heavily industrial region on behalf of Moscow-backed separatists in two self-declared people’s republics.
On Wednesday, the Ukrainian army said it had so far thwarted any major Russian advance to the north of Donetsk, but pressure is mounting with heavy shelling on the city of Sloviansk and nearby populated areas.
It said Russian forces bombed several Ukrainian cities with heavy weapons to allow ground forces to move south into the region and approach Sloviansk.
“The enemy is trying to improve its tactical position… (they) advanced… before being repulsed by our soldiers and retreating with losses,” the Ukrainian army said in its evening note.
Other Russian troops would like to capture two cities on their way to the city of Kramatorsk, south of Sloviansk, and also tried to take control of the main road connecting the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk.
“We are stopping the enemy at the border (Luhansk/Donetsk),” Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian TV. He later said that Luhansk was still not fully occupied by Russian troops and that Russia had suffered “colossal losses”.
“They will try to advance on Sloviansk and Bakhmut. There is no doubt about that,” he said.
Sloviansk mayor Vadym Lyakh told a video briefing that the city had been shelled for the past two weeks.
“The situation is tense,” he said, adding that 17 residents have been murdered there since Feb. 24.
Russia’s defense ministry says it is not targeting civilians and said on Wednesday it used high-precision weapons to counter military threats.
Ukraine has repeatedly pleaded with the West to send more weapons to fend off the invasion that killed thousands, displaced millions and flattened cities.
“Finally, the Western artillery is starting to work powerfully, the weapons that we get from our partners. And their accuracy is exactly what is needed,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his overnight video message.
‘No safe areas’
In the Donetsk town of Kramatorsk, which Russian forces are expected to attempt to capture in the coming weeks, Ukrainian soldiers and a handful of civilians were shopping in green-painted cars and vans on Wednesday. A large part of the population has left.
“It’s almost deserted. It’s creepy,” said Oleksandr, a 64-year-old retired metal worker. He was unlikely to follow official advice to evacuate, he said, despite an increase in rocket attacks.
“I’m not looking for death, but when I come across it, it’s better to be home,” he said.
Outside the Donbas, Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, he was subjected to “constant” Russian shelling at longer ranges, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on Ukrainian TV.
“Russia is trying to demoralize Kharkov, but it will lead to nothing,” he said. Ukrainian defenders pushed Russian armored troops far back from Kharkov early in the war, and Terekhov said there were about 1 million inhabitants there.
South of Kharkov, the governor of Dnipropetrovsk said the region had been attacked by rockets and shelling, while on the south coast the port of Mykolaiv was also heavily shelled, mayor Oleksandr Senkevych told a briefing.
“There are no safe areas in Mykolaiv,” he said. “I’m telling people… to leave.”
Reuters was unable to immediately verify reports on the battlefield.
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