Russian Foreign Minister Warns U.S. and NATO Risk ‘Direct Armed Clash’ as Tensions Rise

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov cautioned that the United States and NATO are risking a “direct armed clash” with Russia, stating that the Black Sea grain deal will no longer be operational if the current state of implementation continues. Lavrov made these remarks while meeting with international leaders in Jakarta, Indonesia. He accused the US and NATO members of creating risks of conflict and warned of serious consequences. These comments come after NATO reiterated its support and provision of fresh weapons packages to Ukraine at its summit in Vilnius, and G7 nations pledged security guarantees for Ukraine, drawing rebukes from Moscow.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that Poland will respond in kind if Russia closes down its diplomatic missions on Russian territory. Morawiecki’s response comes after news that the Kremlin plans to shutter the Polish consulate in Smolensk, a city near the Belarussian border in Western Russia. Poland has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began in February 2022, and Morawiecki stated that if Russia takes steps to liquidate Polish offices, Poland will respond accordingly.

In the city of Belgorod in western Russia, a car explosion injured three people. The region’s governor described the injuries in a Telegram post, stating that the victims were taken to city hospitals with shrapnel wounds to the lower extremities. Belgorod, which is about 25 miles from the Ukrainian border, has experienced multiple incursions by groups claiming to be pro-Ukrainian Russian militants.

Finland’s Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen emphasized that Western aid provided to Ukraine is not an act of charity but rather a form of self-defense and support for Ukraine’s fight against Russia. Valtonen stated that Ukraine is fighting for the liberty and European security of Western nations, and she expressed the West’s commitment to assisting Ukraine. She emphasized that there is no fatigue in providing aid and hoped this commitment would continue.

Ukraine received the bodies of 62 soldiers from Russian forces occupying parts of the country. The exchange of soldiers’ bodies typically requires challenging negotiations.

Cluster munitions provided by the US have now arrived in Ukraine. While there was significant opposition and debate in Congress due to the controversial nature of these bombs, Kyiv viewed them as an important tool for fighting back against Russian forces. Cluster munitions have a high failure rate and can cause devastating harm to civilians. Despite their ban in over 120 countries, including many NATO member states, the US is sending Ukraine a version with a lower failure rate and thousands of rounds.

Ukraine’s air force reported shooting down 16 out of 17 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched by Russian troops. The drones came from the southeastern direction, and Russia has increased its attacks against Ukraine in recent days.

The Pentagon stated that the Russian private mercenary force Wagner Group is not currently participating in any significant way in combat operations in Ukraine. They estimated that the majority of Wagner fighters are in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine. This statement comes after the group’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin led a short-lived mutiny attempt.

Russian President Vladimir Putin argued that the new international commitments to supply Ukraine with additional arms and security assistance packages will only escalate the ongoing conflict. He specifically identified tanks given to Ukraine for battlefield use as a priority target for Russian forces. Putin also expressed concern about Ukraine’s ascension to the NATO alliance, stating that it poses a risk to Russia’s security.

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin accused the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of discriminating against Russian athletes. The IOC stated that Russia and Belarus would not receive official invitations to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris like other countries. The IOC is still considering whether to extend invitations, but Matytsin described their regulations as discriminatory and a violation for athletes whose participation in the Olympic Games is a dream.

These developments come amidst escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, with the international community closely monitoring the situation and providing support to Ukraine.