Russia-Ukraine crisis

Russia says ‘real danger’ of Ukraine acquiring nuclear weapons required response

Reuters
Russia says ‘real danger’ of Ukraine acquiring nuclear weapons required response

WALKOUT. Ambassadors and diplomats walk out while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's (on screen) prerecorded video message is played at the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 1, 2022.

Salvatore Di Nolfi/Pool via Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivers the speech to a thin crowd after many diplomats including France and Britain staged a walkout to protest Russia's invasion of Ukraine as they did at a parallel UN meeting in Geneva

GENEVA, Switzerland – Russia’s foreign minister told a Geneva disarmament meeting on Tuesday, March 1, that Ukraine has been seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, a “real danger” that needed a Russian response.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, February 24, in what it called a special operation to demilitarize and “denazify” the country – a justification dismissed by Kyiv and the West as propaganda.

“Today the dangers that (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskiy’s regime pose for neighboring countries and international security in general have increased substantially after the authorities set up in Kyiv have embarked upon dangerous games related to plans to acquire their own nuclear weapons,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Conference on Disarmament in a video address.

“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.

He delivered the speech to a thin crowd after many diplomats including France and Britain staged a walkout to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as they did at a parallel UN meeting in Geneva on Tuesday.

They stood in a circle outside the meeting for the duration of Lavrov’s speech, holding a Ukrainian flag. Lavrov was supposed to attend the session in person but the visit was canceled, with Russia accusing unidentified EU states of blocking his flight path.

Earlier, a minute of silence was held for the victims of fighting in Ukraine. (LIVE UPDATES: Russia-Ukraine crisis)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has enlivened the deadlocked arms negotiating forum that has failed to reach a deal in decades despite holding over 1,600 plenary meetings.

At the same meeting, Ukraine’s foreign minister accused Russia of war crimes through its shelling of his country and the ambassador called for a special meeting to address Russian aggression and weapons of mass destruction.

A copy of the request seen by Reuters said the meeting would address the “the use of conventional weapons against the civilian population as well as nuclear and other WMD threats” and called for concrete and specific actions.

It said the request was supported by “numerous other” members of the 65-member body, without naming them. Russia’s delegate objected to the meeting. – Rappler.com