Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy secretary of Russia’s powerful Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, said late on Tuesday that the increase in military assistance to Ukraine by the NATO alliance brings World War Three closer.
Commenting on the first day of the summit of the U.S.-led alliance in Lithuania, where a number of countries pledged more weaponry and financial support, Medvedev said the aid would not deter Russia from achieving its goals in Ukraine.
“The completely crazy West could not come up with anything else … In fact, it’s a dead end. World War Three is getting closer,” Medvedev wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
“What does all this mean for us? Everything is obvious. The special military operation will continue with the same goals.”
Reuters reports that Medvedev, who cast himself as a liberal modernizer when he was president from 2008-2012, now presents himself as a fiercely anti-Western Kremlin hawk. Diplomats say his views give an indication of thinking at the top levels of the Kremlin elite.
He also advocated on Tuesday for using the “inhuman weapon” that is cluster munitions after what he said were reports of Ukraine already using it.
The U.S. announced it would supply Kyiv with cluster munitions that typically release large numbers of small bomblets over a wide area and are banned by many countries.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Moscow would be forced to use “similar” weapons if the United States supplied cluster bombs to Ukraine.
Russia and Ukraine have previously accused each other of already using cluster munitions in the 500-day war.
NATO offers military aid but no membership to Ukraine
NATO leaders on Tuesday said they would invite Ukraine to join the alliance only when conditions are met and allies agree — a move intended as a gesture of support for Ukrainians but which was met with disappointment in Kyiv.
“We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met,” the leaders wrote in a summit communiqué, published Tuesday evening.
NATO leaders declared: “We reaffirm the commitment we made at the 2008 Summit in Bucharest that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and today we recognise that Ukraine’s path to full Euro-Atlantic integration has moved beyond the need for the Membership Action Plan.”
Ukraine, they added, “has become increasingly interoperable and politically integrated with the Alliance, and has made substantial progress on its reform path.”
The leaders said they agreed on a package to help Ukrainian forces transition to Western standards and to establish a new NATO-Ukraine Council. And, the communiqué noted, allies “will continue to support and review Ukraine’s progress on interoperability as well as additional democratic and security sector reforms that are required.”
The compromise elicited a disappointed response from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was at a mass rally in Vilnius before meeting NATO leaders later Tuesday night.
He tweeted that he had come to Lithuania hoping the alliance would be an organization that “does not hesitate, does not waste time and does not look back at any aggressor … is that too much to expect?”