Following Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s comments that nuclear war was a serious threat, China’s foreign ministry said Tuesday that “no one wants to see a third world war break out.”

Lavrov was asked about the chances of a third global war in relation to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis in an interview shown on Russian television on Monday. Russia’s “principled position” on nuclear deterrent, according to Lavrov, is “serious and cannot be underestimated.”

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“I wouldn’t want these risks to be artificially inflated now,” Lavrov said, “but the danger is serious, it is real, it cannot be underestimated.”

“No one wants to see a third world war break out,” Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday.

Wang emphasised China’s desire for all parties to “keep calm and exercise restraint,” as well as “realize peace as soon as possible and avoid inflicting a heavier price on Europe and the world.”

“We should reflect on how the vortex of geopolitical conflicts has risen again in Europe, more than 30 years after the end of the Cold War,” Wang said. 

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According to a summary of the UN secretary-general’s Tuesday meeting with Putin in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed “in principle” to United Nations and International Committee for the Red Cross assistance in the evacuation of residents from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres “reiterated the United Nations’ position on Ukraine, and they (Guterres and Putin) discussed the proposals for humanitarian assistance and evacuation of civilians from conflict zones,” according to a readout from the UN secretary-spokesman general’s Stephane Dujarric.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Russia and Ukraine had made a “serious breakthrough” during discussions in Istanbul, Turkey, but that the situation had changed “dramatically” after Russia was accused of crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.