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Russia on Monday warned the Ukraine conflict risked escalating into a third world war and accused Kyiv of playing at peace talks a day after visiting US officials said Ukrainian forces could beat back Moscow s invasion.

The conflict has triggered an outburst of support from Western nations that has seen weapons pour into Ukraine to help them wage war against Russian troops.

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Speaking to Russian news agencies, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticised Kyiv s approach to floundering peace talks, saying the risk of a World War III “is serious”.

“It is real, you can t underestimate it.”

While he said talks with Kyiv would continue, Lavrov accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of “pretending” to negotiate, adding: “You ll find a thousand contradictions.”

For months, Zelensky has been asking Ukraine s western allies for heavy weapons — including artillery and fighter jets — vowing his forces could turn the tide of the war with more firepower.

The calls appear to be resonating now, with a host of NATO countries pledging to provide a range of heavy weapons and equipment, despite protests from Moscow.

“The first step in winning is believing that you can win,” Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin told a group of journalists after he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Zelensky in Kyiv.

“We believe that we can win — they can win — if they have the right equipment, the right support.”

The highly sensitive US trip by two of President Joe Biden s top cabinet members came as fighting continued across Ukraine, casting a long shadow over Easter celebrations in the largely Orthodox country.



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