MOSCOW (Reuters) -- An ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Tuesday that the world was probably on the verge of a new world war, cautioning that the risks of a nuclear confrontation were also rising, though neither scenario was inevitable.
“The world is sick and quite probably is on the verge of a new world war,” former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who serves as deputy chairman of Putin’s powerful security council, told a conference in Moscow.
He said such a new world war was not inevitable but said the risks of a nuclear confrontation were growing - and more serious than concerns about climate change.
The TASS news agency quoted a senior Russian diplomat also as saying on Tuesday that risks of a direct military confrontation between the two nuclear powers, Russia and the United States, are steadily growing.
Vladimir Yermakov, the foreign ministry’s head of nuclear non-proliferation, told the Russian state news agency that Washington is escalating the risks through its conduct with Moscow.
Since the start of the Ukraine war 14 months ago, Moscow has issued regular charges against the U.S. and what it calls “the collective West” for raising the risks of a nuclear war, rhetoric intended to deter Kyiv’s allies.
“If the United States continues to follow its current course of confrontation with Russia, with the stakes constantly escalating on the verge of sliding into direct armed conflict, then the fate of START (nuclear arms treaty) may be a foregone conclusion,” Yermakov said.
The U.S. told Russia in March that it will cease exchanging some data on its nuclear forces following Moscow’s refusal to do so, calling it a response to Russia’s suspending participation in the New START treaty.
“The most acute threat today is associated ... with the danger of nuclear escalation as a result of a direct military confrontation between nuclear powers,” Yermakov said. “And these risks, to the deepest regret, are steadily growing.”
Moscow and Beijing will assess the West’s potential involvement in the global expansion of the U.S. anti-missile system, which “clearly undermines strategic stability,” he added.
On Tuesday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said it was expelling a Moldovan diplomat in what it cast as retaliation for the expulsion last week of a Russian diplomat in Moldova.
The ministry said in a statement it had summoned Moldova’s ambassador in Moscow to announce the expulsion, as well as to protest against what it called “unfriendly steps towards Russia” and “regular anti-Russian statements” from Chisinau.