Russia accuses NATO of "proxy war" in Ukraine
Russia's top diplomat said in a TV interview with state media late Monday that NATO "in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy."
The big picture: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also warned against provoking a third world war and said the threat of a nuclear conflict "should not be underestimated," according to a transcript from Russia's Foreign Ministry.
- Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that Lavrov's comments showed that the Kremlin had lost its "last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine."
- "Thus the talk of a 'real' danger of WWIII. This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine," he added. "Therefore, the world must double down on supporting Ukraine so that we prevail and safeguard European and global security."
Of note: Lavrov's comments came hours after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia was "failing" in its war aims and Ukraine was "succeeding" and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin added that he believed Ukrainian troops could defeat the invading forces "if they have the right equipment, the right support."
State of play: As Lavrov accused others of provocation, Russia's invading forces were heavily bombarding eastern Ukraine, according to multiple reports.
- Ukraine's General Staff said in a statement that Russian forces were "continuing to partially blockade" Kharkiv while bombarding Ukraine's second city.
What to watch: The U.S. was hosting a summit in Germany of defense officials on Tuesday.
- This would discuss the "operational picture on the ground and review near-term Ukrainian defense needs, while providing attendees an opportunity to examine ways in which Ukraine’s longer term national security interests can be best met," according to a State Department readout.
What they're saying: U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters en route to Germany the next several weeks "will be very, very critical" in Ukraine, per AFP.
- "They need continued support in order to be successful on the battlefield. And that's really the purpose of this conference," he added.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of military developments in Ukraine.