Shock as Russia warns humanity threatened if West punishes Putin over Ukraine

Putin 'continues to use energy as a weapon' says Von der Leyen

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The invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24 has led to the most serious crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, when many feared the world was on the verge of nuclear war. US President Joe Biden says Russian President Vladimir Putin is a war criminal and has led the West in arming Ukraine and imposing severe sanctions on Russia.

Mr Medvedev said on Telegram on Wednesday: “The idea of ​​punishing the country with the greatest nuclear potential is absurd. And potentially a threat to the very existence of humanity.”

According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia and the United States control about 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, each with about 4,000 warheads in their military stockpile.

Mr Medvedev casts the United States as an empire that has bled the world by killing Native Americans, citing US nuclear attacks on Japan, and numerous wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan.

Mr Medvedev said attempts to use courts or tribunals to investigate Russia’s actions in Ukraine would be futile and risk global catastrophe.

Ukraine and its Western allies say the Russian military is engaged in war crimes.

Putin launched his offensive, calling it a “special military operation”, to demilitarise Ukraine, what he said were dangerous nationalists, and to protect Russian-speakers in that country.

Ukraine and its allies say Russia launched an imperialist-style land grab, waging the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II.

After failing to capture the capital Kyiv early, Russia is now waging a war for Ukraine’s Donbass region, parts of which are controlled by Russian separatist proxies.

On Sunday, Putin claimed his biggest victory when Ukrainian forces withdrew from Luhansk province.

The Russian army launched an offensive to capture the neighbouring Donetsk province – Donbass is included in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia says it wants to take control of the eastern and heavily industrialised region on behalf of Moscow-backed separatists in the two self-declared people’s republics.

On Wednesday, the Ukrainian military said it had so far halted any major Russian advance north of Donetsk, but pressure was mounting with heavy shelling in the Slovak city and surrounding populated areas.

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It added that Russian forces were bombarding several Ukrainian cities with heavy weapons to enable ground forces to advance south into the region and close in Sloviansk.

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