Russia warns of “uncontrolled escalation” in Ukraine war
Russia has warned that the war in Ukraine is trending towards “uncontrolled escalation” as it fired missiles and drones into the Ukrainian-held southern town of Mykolaiv on Sunday.
Russia’s defense ministry said its Minister, Sergei Shoigu, discussed the “rapidly deteriorating situation” in phone calls with British, French, and Turkish counterparts.
According to the ministry, Shoigu also spoke by phone with U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin for the second time in three days.
Without providing evidence, Shoigu said Ukraine could escalate by using a “dirty bomb”, or conventional explosives laced with radioactive material.
The Pentagon said Austin told Shoigu he “rejected any pretext for Russian escalation.”
Ukraine does not possess nuclear weapons, while Russia has said it could protect its territory with its nuclear arsenal.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba rejected the accusation as “absurd” and “dangerous”, adding: “Russians often accuse others of what they plan themselves.”
In a joint statement after the talks, Britain, France and the United States said they were committed to supporting Ukraine “for as long as it takes” and rejected Russia’s warning about a “dirty bomb”.
“Our countries made clear that we all reject Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory,” they said.
“The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation.”
Russia destroyed an apartment block in its missiles and drones strike into the Ukrainian-held southern town of Mykolaiv.
Sunday’s missile strike in Mykolaiv wiped out the top floor of the apartment block, sending shrapnel and debris across a plaza and into neighboring buildings, Reuters witnessed. No fatalities were recorded.
The strike on the shipbuilding town about 35 km (22 miles) northwest of the front line in Kherson came as Russia ordered 60,000 people to flee the region “to save your lives” in the face of a Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Meanwhile, Russian-installed administration of Ukraine’s Kherson region on Monday announced the formation of a local militia, saying that all men remaining in the city can join.
Russian authorities ordered civilians to evacuate from Kherson, one of four Ukrainian regions Russia annexed last month even as Kyiv’s forces have made significant military gains.
Ukraine’s advances in recent weeks around Kherson and in the country’s northeast have been met with intensifying Russian missile and drone attacks on civilian infrastructure, which have destroyed about 40% of Ukraine’s power system ahead of winter.