The situation in Ukraine has “become a catalyst” for “a great number of problems,” and as a result, Russia has responded “expeditiously” to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres‘ invitation for discussions, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“We definitely appreciate your desire to have another round of talks at this hard time,” Lavrov told Guterres at the start of a meeting in Moscow to address the situation in Ukraine and its global implications.

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The meeting between Guterres and Russian President Vladimir Putin later Tuesday, according to Lavrov, “emphasizes the significance that we attach to our contacts with the United Nations.”

“We are extremely interested,” Guterres said Lavrov, in finding methods to create conditions for constructive negotiation, a ceasefire “as soon as possible,” and “conditions for a peaceful solution.”

“I know today we are facing a complex situation in Ukraine, different interpretations about what is happening in Ukraine, but that does not limit the possibility to have a very serious dialogue on how best we can work to minimize the suffering of people,” Guterres said. 

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“These are also very deep interests that I have in the present moment — to do everything possible to end the war as soon as possible, and to do everything possible to minimize the suffering of the people and to address the impacts of the vulnerable populations” in all other parts of the world affected by the war.

“It is very important to support all countries around the world in relation to food, in relation to energy, in relation to finance,” Guterres said. 

Lavrov has warned of a “considerable” potential of armed conflict expanding beyond Ukraine, accusing NATO of acting in a proxy war.

Lavrov was asked about the possibility of a third global war on Russian state television on Monday, and his response represents a dramatic increase in language, according to Reuters.

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“The risks now are considerable,” Lavrov said, according to a transcript of the interview obtained by Reuters from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“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 United States is having defence discussions centred on Ukraine at its Ramstein air facility in Germany, where German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht stated that Berlin will deliver Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine.

And, on Monday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated unequivocally that the US wants Russia’s military capabilities to be degraded.

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“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 remarked during a press conference following his visit to Kyiv to meet with 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.”