Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned that there is a "considerable" risk of armed conflict spreading beyond Ukraine, and accused NATO of engaging in a proxy war.
Lavrov was asked on Russian state television on Monday about the prospects of world war three, and his response marks a significant escalation in rhetoric, reports Reuters.
"The risks now are considerable," Lavrov said, according to the ministry's transcript of the interview, reports Reuters.
"The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it," Lavrov said. "NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war."
The US is hosting Ukraine-focused defense talks at its Ramstein air base in Germany, where German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht announced that Berlin will deliver Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine.
And on Monday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin explicitly said that the US wants to see Russia's military capabilities weakened.
"We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can't do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine," Austin said at a news conference after traveling to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"So it has already lost a lot of military capability. And a lot of its troops, quite frankly," added Austin. "And we want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability."