July 2, 2022

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Russia says the "real danger" of Ukraine acquiring nuclear weapons requires a response

Russia says the “real danger” of Ukraine acquiring nuclear weapons requires a response

  • Ukraine accuses Russia of ‘war crimes’ at UN session
  • Kyiv seeks to hold a meeting on Russian aggression, weapons of mass destruction
  • Diplomats boycott Lavrov’s speeches at UN forums

GENEVA (Reuters) – Russia’s foreign minister told a meeting on disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday that Ukraine was seeking nuclear weapons, a “real danger” that needed a Russian response.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday in what it called a special operation to disarm and “discredit” the country – a justification rejected by Kyiv and the West as propaganda. Read more

“Today, the dangers that the regime of (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky poses to neighboring countries and international security in general have increased significantly after the authorities established in Kyiv embarked on dangerous games related to plans to acquire their own nuclear weapons,” the Russian foreign minister said. Sergei Lavrov told the CD in a video address.

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“Ukraine still possesses Soviet nuclear technologies and means of delivering such weapons. We cannot fail to respond to this real danger,” he said, calling on Washington to withdraw its nuclear weapons from Europe.

The speech was delivered to a slim crowd after several diplomats, including France and Britain, marched to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as they did at a parallel United Nations meeting in Geneva on Tuesday. Read more

They stood in a circle outside the meeting for the duration of Lavrov’s speech, carrying the Ukrainian flag. Lavrov was supposed to attend the session in person, but the visit was cancelled, as Russia accused unnamed countries of the European Union of obstructing his itinerary.

Earlier, a minute of silence was observed for the victims of the fighting in Ukraine.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has revived a faltering arms negotiating forum that failed to reach an agreement decades ago despite holding more than 1,600 plenary sessions.

At the same meeting, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister accused Russia of committing war crimes by bombing his country, and the ambassador called for a special meeting to counter Russian aggression and weapons of mass destruction. Read more

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

She said the request had the support of “several other members” of the 65-member body, without naming them. Russia’s delegate objected to the meeting.

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(Reporting by Emma Farge) Editing by Andrew Heavens, Edmund Blair and Nick McPhee

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