I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

― Albert Einstein

Russian Foreign Minister Sergie Lavrov, despite not being directly responsible for any military decision-making stated, in an interview with India Today Television on 19 April that Russia will only use conventional weapons in Ukraine. Western intelligence officials have warned that the Kremlin might turn to tactical, chemical or nuclear weapons from its arsenal if it continues to fail to meet its objectives in its invasion of Ukraine or as a result of a perceived slight against President Vladimir Putin. Western public opinion is increasingly sensitive to the threat of nuclear war, perceived as the end of human civilisation.  Conversely, Russia’s interest appears to exploit those fears to stop the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine and levy other demands. However, Lavrov’s statement should be taken with caution. A Russian attack with tactical nuclear weapons could be aimed at a target outside Ukraine. Russian State propagandists have said that Russia could hit NATO member Poland with nuclear weapons

Describing the recent state of fighting Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, a Deputy Commander of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment, has posted a video online purporting to be shot in Mariupol’ Azovstal Steelworks stating that “Heavy, bloody fighting is going on.” The Kremlin has denied a Ukrainian claim that its forces were storming the plant and said humanitarian corridors are currently operating there. Nearly 500 civilians have been evacuated from Mariupol and other areas in southern Ukraine as part of a joint UN-International Red Cross operation, the Ukrainian President’s office said. Russia has claimed its artillery struck multiple Ukrainian positions and strongholds overnight, killing 600 fighters. A Ukrainian Presidential Adviser has said he did not expect Russia’s offensive to produce “significant results” before it holds the annual 9 May  Victory Day in Moscow to mark the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany. The Kremlin has accused the United States and other NATO countries of “constantly” feeding intelligence to Ukraine, but says this would not stop Russia from achieving its military goals there. US Defence Department has denied providing information on the whereabouts of Russian generals so Ukrainian forces could kill them. “We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military,” Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby said, responding to a New York Times report. Separately, US media have reported Washington shared intelligence that helped Ukraine sink the Russian Warship Moskva last month.

The recent economic impact  incudes that European Union countries are “almost there” in agreeing to the bloc’s proposed new package of sanctions against Russia, including an oil embargo, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said. Oil prices have jumped on the proposed EU ban; the Kremlin said it was looking into various options in response. US President Joe Biden has announced he would speak with leaders from the G7 advanced economies this week about more sanctions. It must be noted that since the start of Russia.s invasion of Ukraine, 223 children have died, and 408 were injured, Ukraine’s office of the prosecutor general reported. Most children killed were in the Donetsk region (139), followed by Kyiv (116), Kharkiv (95), Chernihiv (68) and Kherson (46). The EU should confiscate and sell Russian assets it seized and use the proceeds to rebuild Ukraine, EU Chief Charles Michel said, echoing an idea already floated in the US. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said Putin apologised for remarks made by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who claimed Adolf Hitler may have had “Jewish blood”.

Russia Foreign Minister Lavrov added that the reasons for going to war were “the complacency of most countries after World War II. They violated their promises to the Russian leadership and started moving NATO eastward after the Soviet Union disappeared. They said it’s a defensive alliance and not a threat to Russian security.”  Denying allegations of war crimes committed by the Russian Army, Lavrov said, “Our Army has only been targeting military infrastructure and not civilians. The Ukrainian Army has been using civilians as human shields.” His statements appear to reflect a narrative in complete contradiction with the findings on the ground. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Russia may use nuclear weapons, in the case of an ‘existential threat’. The Russian military doctrine includes the ‘escalate to de-escalate’ principle of launching a small nuke to regain the initiative in the war.

In conclusion. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has blasted Russia’s “absurd war.” Thousands of people have been killed in Ukraine, millions made refugees, and cities pulverized in the past month. As Einstein said World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

The writer is an Attorney-at-Law with LLB, LLM, M.Phil. (Colombo)

[email protected]

By Lakshman I.Keerthisinghe


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