Russia attacks dozens of Ukrainian towns and issues warning of escalation.
On Thursday, as NATO allies met in Brussels to discuss measures to strengthen Europe’s air defense systems and provide additional military help to Ukraine, officials reported that Russian missiles had bombarded more than 40 Ukrainian cities and towns.
Moscow’s renewed warnings that Western aid made them “a direct party to the conflict” and that NATO membership for Ukraine may lead to a third world war.
“Kyiv is well aware that such a step would mean a guaranteed escalation to a World War Three,” deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Alexander Venediktov, told the state TASS news agency on Thursday as the United States vowed to defend “every inch” of allied territory.
Moscow has repeatedly justified the Feb. 24 invasion that has killed tens of thousands of people, in what it calls a “special operation”, by saying Ukraine’s ambitions to join the alliance posed a threat to Russia’s security.
NATO is not likely to quickly allow Ukraine to join, not least because its membership during an ongoing war would put the United States and allies into direct conflict with Russia.
Even before the war, NATO had dragged its feet on Ukrainian membership. Shortly after Russia’s invasion in February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signaled he was willing to consider neutrality.
But hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed partially occupied regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as Russian land on Sept. 30, Zelenskyy made a fast-track bid to join.
Russian missiles hit more than 40 settlements in the past 24 hours, while the Ukrainian air force conducted 32 attacks on 25 Russian targets, according to the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces.
Mykolaiv, a port city in the south, was heavily bombarded, according to local officials.
In a statement on social media, regional governor Vitaly Kim said that “It is known that a number of civilian objects were hit.”
According to him, a five-story residential building’s top two floors were totally destroyed, while the other three were buried under rubble.