Russia bluntly warned Thursday that further meddling by Western powers in Ukraine would spark World War III — this time a nuclear one that “will be catastrophic for all mankind.”

A top Kremlin official specifically threatened worldwide carnage if NATO approves Ukraine’s bid to join its alliance.

“Kyiv is well aware that such a step would mean a guaranteed escalation to a World War III,” deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Alexander Venediktov, told the state TASS news agency.

The warning came a day after a senior NATO official said a Russian nuclear strike would almost certainly trigger a “physical response” from Ukraine’s allies — and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US was “committed to defending every inch of NATO’s territory.”

However, Venediktov took that to mean that Western powers and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were planning preemptive strikes.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeals to European leaders on Thursday.
The Kremlin official said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky knows that NATO membership “would mean a guaranteed escalation to a World War III.”
AFP via Getty Images

Zelensky’s words are “not just some kind of remark, but an open call for the Third World War in which there can be no winners,” Venediktov said.

Despite his own president, Vladimir Putin, repeatedly threatening the use of nuclear weapons — warning that he is “not bluffing” — Venediktov insisted without evidence that only the West was making such threats.

“Russian officials have never voiced a threat to use any weapons of mass destruction,” he claimed, ignoring Putin’s repeated threats during national broadcasts from the start of his invasion.

“Meanwhile in Europe, some politicians openly call for such actions … Even a number of politicians in the EU do not conceal and do not rule out the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction against Russia,” he claimed, without evidence.

Vladimir Putin on Thiursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly raised the specter of nuclear war, insisting recently that he was not bluffing about threats to use them.
SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

He claimed that “there are very serious doubts about the adequacy of Zelensky,” suggesting that the Ukrainian president is a puppet whose “actions and words” are “dictated” by others.

“Therefore, it would be good for the West to realize that their protege can take on so much that Washington and Brussels will have to think about how to deal with the consequences.

Venediktov suggested that “dangerous” comments were only being made because “in the West, fewer and fewer people remember what war is.”

“For some reason, many believe that a nuclear war can be waged locally,” he said.

“We must remember: a nuclear conflict will affect absolutely the whole world – and not only Russia and the collective West, but in general any country on this planet.

“Its consequences will be catastrophic for all mankind,” he warned ominously, days after President Biden conceded fears of impending Armageddon.

Venediktov’s interview was given as Russian missiles pounded more than 40 Ukrainian cities and towns on Thursday, continuing the dramatic escalation that started Monday.

Apartment building damaged Thursday by attacks on Mykolaiv.
Russia continued bombarding Ukraine on Thursday, with apartments like this one in Mykolaiv getting hit.
REUTERS

The southern port city of Mykolaiv came under massive bombardment, while missiles also struck about 30 multi-story buildings and houses in the city of Nikopol in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Thousands were left without power after gas pipelines and power lines were hit.

Drones also hit the region around Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, which until this week had gone months without such air strikes. The UN human rights body said such attacks, including a missile that hit just feet from a playground, amounted to war crimes.

Crater near Kyiv playground.
Thursday’s attacks continued the escalation that started Monday, which included a missile hitting just feet from a playground in capital Kyiv.
Getty Images

Putin blamed the escalation on Ukrainian “terrorist” acts after Russia’s key bridge to Crimea was hit on Sunday. 

The speaker of Russia’s lower house of power, the State Duma, used the same excuse Thursday as he warned of worse atrocities to come.

“Nowhere in the world does anyone negotiate with terrorists,” Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel.

“If the terrorist attacks by the Kyiv regime continue, the response will be even tougher.”

With Post wires



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