Russia issues fresh threat: World War 3 will be nuclear, destructive

More than half a million Ukrainians have fled the fighting since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that if a third World War were to take place, it would involve nuclear weapons and be destructive, the RIA news agency reported. This followed his speech to a Geneva disarmament meeting on Tuesday that Ukraine had been seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, a “real danger” that needed a Russian response.

Ukraine still has Soviet nuclear technologies and the means of delivery of such weapons. We cannot fail to respond to this real danger,” he said, also calling for Washington to rebase its nuclear weapons from Europe.

The day saw Russia claiming its forces had taken control of the first sizable city on Wednesday, seizing Kherson, in the south, as fighting raged around the country with Russian paratroopers landing in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city, and Western nations tightened an economic noose around Russia.

More than half a million Ukrainians have fled the fighting since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of his southern neighbour nearly a week ago.

Ukraine said over 2,000 civilians had died since the start of the hostilities, while its forces had killed 6,000 of Russian troops.

The gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine

Russian bombardments of Ukrainian cities continued, with video posted on social media showing heavily damaged buildings around the second city of Kharkiv.

“While he may make gains on the battlefield, he will pay a continuing high price over the long run,” US President Joe Biden said at his State of the Union address. Straying from the prepared text, Biden added “He has no idea what’s coming.”, but did not elaborate, after calling Putin a ‘dictator’. Vladimir Putin “badly miscalculated” with his invasion of Ukraine, Biden said, while banning Russian flights from American airspace.

“He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people,” Biden said.

People who fled from Ukraine rest at a shelter, amid Russia’s invasion on Ukraine, in Ubla, Slovakia

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had a simple message for the Russians — just stop the bombing. He said on Tuesday that Russia must stop bombing Ukrainian cities before meaningful talks on a ceasefire could start, as a first round of negotiations this week had yielded scant progress.

A civilian trains to throw Molotov cocktails to defend the city, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine

Setting out his conditions for further talks with Russia, Zelenskyy told Reuters and CNN in a joint interview: “It’s necessary to at least stop bombing people, just stop the bombing and then sit down at the negotiating table.”

Just as he was speaking, news emerged that a Russian missile had struck a TV tower near a Holocaust memorial site in the Ukrainian capital, killing at least five people. Earlier on Tuesday, missiles struck the heart of the eastern city of Kharkiv.

Later on Wednesday, after a call with European Union President Charles Michel, Zelenskyy said he was expecting positive news on his country’s membership bid.

The World Bank also said it was preparing $3 billion in funding for Ukraine as it worked with the International Monetary Fund work to support the country following its invasion by Russia. The World Bank’s board will consider a fast-disbursing budget support operation for at least $350 million that will be submitted this week, followed by $200 million in support for health and education, the two institutions said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

Police detain demonstrators in St. Petersburg, Russia during a protest against Russia’s attack on Ukraine

The Russian central bank banned coupon payments to foreign owners of rouble bonds known as OFZs in what it called a temporary step to shore up markets in the wake of international sanctions. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced on Wednesday that all information technology companies in Russia will be exempt from paying income tax and free from inspections for three years.

Amid top global firms moving out of Russia, the leader of the biggest cryptocurrency exchange said Russians seeking ways around financial sanctions was not a “crypto-specific issue”. Binance Holdings’s chief executive refuted calls to restrict all Russians from using the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao said Binance has complied with international government mandates to restrict sanctioned individuals, but that to expand that further would be “unethical for us to do.”

The crypto industry follows the “same rules” as banks, he said.