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Russia’s Ryabkov Warns of Nuclear Escalation

He delivered his remarks to a largely empty room at the world’s premier disarmament forum.

By , a global affairs journalist and the author of The Influence of Soros and Bad Jews.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov delivers a virtual speech.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov delivers a virtual speech.
Placards in colors of the Ukrainian flag bearing the hashtag “StandWithUkraine” are seen on the empty seats of U.S. representatives as Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov delivers a virtual speech during the U.N. Human Rights Council session in Geneva on March 2. FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at a Russian envoy’s nuclear warnings, a tense exchange at the foreign ministers’ G-20, and criticism of the Japanese prime minister’s comments on same-sex marriage.

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at a Russian envoys nuclear warnings, a tense exchange at the foreign ministers’ G-20, and criticism of the Japanese prime ministers comments on same-sex marriage.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


U.N. Russian Official Warns of Nuclear Clashes

Speaking at a United Nations conference in Geneva on the subject of nuclear disarmament, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov warned that Western support for Ukraine could lead to a nuclear conflict.

Ryabkov blamed “U.S. and NATO policy of fueling the conflict in Ukraine” and warned that “increasing involvement in the military confrontation is fraught with a direct military clash of nuclear powers with catastrophic consequences.” That Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended Russian participation in the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (known as New START) was, Ryabkov stressed, a response to this involvement.

Ryabkov did say Russia would continue to respect caps on nuclear weapons under the treaty.

Ryabkov also said Russia would be forced to respond if the United States conducted nuclear tests, adding, “No one should have dangerous illusions that the global strategic parity could be destroyed.”

However, Ryabkov addressed a mostly empty room, as many of his fellow diplomats elected to take a photo op by a blue and yellow mural during his speaking time.

“We consider this as an extraordinary show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people who resist an unprovoked and unjustified Russias aggression,” Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.N. Yevheniia Filipenko told the AFP.

The Conference on Disarmament, established in 1979, is the premier global disarmament forum.


What We’re Following Today 

Blinken and Lavrov meet at G-20. After saying he was not planning on speaking with his Russian counterpart when G-20 foreign ministers convened in New Delhi, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke briefly with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday. Blinken told reporters after: “I told the foreign minister what I and so many many others said last week at the United Nations, and what so many G-20 foreign ministers said today: End this war of aggression. Engage in meaningful diplomacy that can produce a just and lasting peace.” He also apparently called Russian suspension of nuclear treaty New START “irresponsible” and mentioned Paul Whelan, an American who has been detained in Russia since late 2018.

Meanwhile, the host of the proceedings, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said, “global governance has failed” and multilateral institutions were in crisis. Notably, he did not mention the war in Ukraine in his remarks.

1921 Tulsa massacre survivors get Ghanaian citizenship. Two survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, in which Black American residents of what was known as “Black Wall Street” were attacked by an angry white mob, have been granted Ghanaian citizenship. They are Viola Fletcher, 108 and her brother Hughes Van Ellis, 102. They are two of the three living survivors of the massacre. Their citizenship ceremony was held at the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington. They previously visited Ghana in 2021, marking a century since the massacre that took around 300 lives.

Kishida says same-sex marriage ban isn’t discrimination. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said the country’s ban on same-sex marriage is not discriminatory. He also said a ban on same-sex marriage is “not unconstitutional.” Activists have criticized him for his remarks, noting local courts have ruled that such a ban is indeed unconstitutional. This comes just weeks after Kishida fired an aide for making homophobic remarks.


Keep an Eye On

Ukrainian “terrorists” or Russian false flag? Russian authorities have said a reconnaissance group entered a Russian village in the Bryansk region near the Russian-Ukrainian border. The group is, according to Moscow, a Ukraine-based collective of far-right Russian nationals. The group claims an association with the Ukrainian military; Ukraine’s military has not claimed any links to it, and Kyiv has called it a “classic provocation,” suggesting a false flag operation by Moscow. Putin called it a “terrorist attack.”

Keir Starmer hires Partygate investigator as chief of staff. British Labour leader Keir Starmer has enraged allies of former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson by hiring Sue Gray, who led the so-called Partygate inquiry into No. 10 Downing St. parties during lockdown.

Johnson allies allege that this casts doubt on the parliamentary inquiry, with one official going so far as to tell the Guardian: “I don’t see how if the privileges committee is going to proceed, how it can use Sue Gray’s findings, knowing that the orchestrator and investigator of those findings is now Keir Starmer’s chief of staff. Labour have scuppered the key evidential core of that investigation.” Gray, a Whitehall veteran, has resigned from her role as a civil servant.


Thursday’s Most Read

Why China Is Not a Superpower by Jo Inge Bekkevold

How Ukraine Learned to Fight by Jack Detsch

Putin’s Russian Critics Are Growing Ever Louder by Anchal Vohra


Odds and Ends 

Pucker up. A group of Chinese university students created a remote kissing device—3D, made of silicone, and with a mouth-shaped module that attaches to a smartphone—for people in long-distance relationships.

Emily Tamkin is a global affairs journalist and the author of The Influence of Soros and Bad Jews. Twitter: @emilyctamkin

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