Russia's top diplomat urged Ukraine against inciting World War III and warned that the possibility of nuclear war "should not be underestimated" as his country launched strikes on rail and energy infrastructure distant from the front lines of Moscow's new eastern operation.
Meanwhile, the US moved Monday to expedite the delivery of additional hardware to Ukraine, claiming that support from Western partners is making a difference in the two-month-old conflict.
"Russia is doomed. Ukraine is prospering," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed a day after he and the US defense secretary paid a daring visit to Kyiv to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Blinken stated that Washington had approved a $165 million sale of ammunition — non-US ammunition, primarily but not exclusively for Ukraine's Soviet-era weapons — and will also give over $300 million in finance to purchase more supplies.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin elaborated on his remarks, stating that while the US wishes for Ukraine to remain a sovereign, democratic country, it also expects "to see Russia weakened to the point where it is incapable of carrying out actions such as invading Ukraine."
Austin's words appeared to signal a shift in the United States' broader strategic objectives. Previously, the US view was that military assistance should be used to assist Ukraine in winning and to safeguard Ukraine's NATO neighbors against Russian threats.
In an apparent response to Austin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that Russia has "a sense that the West wishes Ukraine to continue fighting and, as they perceive it, wear out and exhaust the Russian army and military-industrial complex." This is a deception."
He stated that Western-supplied weaponry "would be a legitimate target." "Russian soldiers, he added, have already targeted weapons storage facilities in western Ukraine.
Lavrov accused Ukrainian authorities of inciting Russia by requesting NATO's involvement in the conflict. He asserted that NATO effectively said, "The United States has engaged in a proxy war with Russia and is arming those proxies."
"Everyone is reciting incantations that we cannot allow World War III in any circumstances," he stated during a wide-ranging interview with Russian television.
According to a transcript posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website, NATO forces are "pouring gasoline on the fire" by sending weaponry, Lavrov said.
Concerning the potential of a nuclear exchange, Lavrov stated, "I would not want to see these risks artificially inflated at this time, when the risks are quite significant."
"The danger is grave,"'He stated. "It is true, and it should not be overlooked."
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign minister, said on Twitter that Lavrov's remarks underline Ukraine's need for Western assistance: "Russia's final hope of scaring the world away from helping Ukraine has evaporated. As a result, there is talk of a'real' threat of WWIII. This merely indicates that Moscow perceives defeat in Ukraine."
When Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, its apparent objective was to seize Kyiv's capital in an instant. However, the Ukrainians blocked the drive and forced President Vladimir Putin's army to retreat, aided by Western weapons.
Moscow's stated objective is to seize the Donbas, eastern Ukraine's predominantly Russian-speaking industrial region. While both sides claim the eastern campaign is started, Russia has yet to launch a full-fledged ground operation and has made no significant breakthroughs.
On Monday, Russia shifted its firepower away from the front lines, with missiles and bombers targeting targets deep beyond the front lines to frustrate Ukrainian efforts to marshal supplies for the fight.
Five railroad stations in central and western Ukraine were struck, killing one employee, according to Oleksandr Kamyshin, Ukraine's state railway's head. The bombardment included a missile attack near Lviv, a western city near the Polish border that has grown in population due to Ukrainians fleeing the fighting elsewhere in the country.
Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian strikes killed at least five persons in the central Vynnytsia area.
According to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj, Russia also destroyed an oil refinery and gasoline storage facilities in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine. Gen. Igor Konashenkov. In total, he added, Russian warplanes destroyed 56 Ukrainian sites.
The new raids against gasoline depots, according to Philip Breedlove, a former US general who served as NATO's top commander from 2013 to 2016, are part of a campaign to deplete crucial Ukrainian combat resources. On the other hand, he noted, the strikes targeting rail targets are a more recent technique.
"I believe they're doing it legitimately, attempting to obstruct the flow of supplies to the front," he explained. "The illegitimate reason is that they are aware that people are attempting to flee the country, and this is yet another intimidation, terrorist tactic designed to undermine their faith and confidence in rail travel."
Phillips P. O'Brien, a strategic studies professor at the Scotland's University of St. Andrews, said the war is currently settling into an incremental campaign of battlefield losses and gains.
"Every day, the two sides are eroding each other's strength," he explained. "So it's a matter of bringing in something new" and "destroying what's on the other side."
In Transnistria, a Moldovan breakaway area bordering Ukraine, three explosions suspected to have been launched by rocket-propelled grenades struck the territory's Ministry of State Security. No one immediately claimed responsibility, and there were no reports of injuries. Transnistria is a narrow area of land inhabited by approximately 470,000 people and defended by about 1,500 Russian troops.
Moldova's Foreign Ministry stated that "today's incident aims to generate pretexts for straining the Transnistrian region's security situation." The US has repeatedly warned that Russia may execute "false-flag" strikes against its allies to establish a pretext for invading other countries.
Rustam Minnekayev, a Russian military officer, stated last week that the Kremlin desires complete control of southern Ukraine, which would pave the way for Transnistria.
Around 2,000 Ukrainian troops holed up in a steel mill in the vital southern port city of Mariupol are supposedly tying down Russian forces and preventing them from joining the offensive elsewhere in the Donbas. Russian military launched further airstrikes on the Azovstal plant over the weekend to evict the holdouts.
Additionally, it was reported that 1,000 citizens were taking refuge at the steelworks.
Mariupol's city council and the mayor announced the discovery of a new mass burial some 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the city. According to Mayor Vadym Boychenko, authorities attempt to ascertain the number of victims. At least the third such mass burial was uncovered in the recent week in Russian-controlled territories around Mariupol.
Mariupol has been devastated by bombardment and brutal street warfare over the last two months. Along with liberating Russian troops, capturing the city would deprive Ukraine of a critical port and enable Moscow to construct a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Zelenskyy stated in his nightly video message that his country's objective is to maintain resistance and "make the occupiers' stay in our land intolerable" while Russia consumes its resources.
Britain has estimated that 15,000 Russian servicemen have been killed in Ukraine since Moscow's incursion began. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace stated that 25% of Russian combat battalions sent to Ukraine "have been rendered combat ineffective." "efficacious."
As of mid-April, Ukrainian officials estimated that 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed.