Russia's parliamentary leader warns of a third world war

Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the State Duma, arrives for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. -/Kremlin/dpa
Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the State Duma, arrives for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. -/Kremlin/dpa
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Russian parliamentary leader Vyacheslav Volodin has evoked the danger of a third world war on the 80th anniversary of the end of the siege of Leningrad.

"Fascist ideology has become the norm for the leadership of NATO countries," Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel on Saturday.

He accused Western governments, including explicitly the German government led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, of supporting a policy of genocide in Ukraine. "This is a dangerous path that could lead to a new world war," Volodin said.

Russia's main justification for its war against Ukraine, which has been going on for almost two years, is the claim that the neighbouring country needs to be "de-Nazified."

Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly uses historical comparisons with World War II to justify his attack on the neighbouring country.

He equates the invasion of Ukraine that he ordered with the Soviet Union's defence against Nazi Germany's criminal war of aggression.

On anniversaries, Moscow often uses the argument of "defending the memory of the war dead" for its war campaign.

Exactly 80 years ago, on January 27, 1944, Soviet troops broke through the German Wehrmacht's siege ring around what was then Leningrad, now St Petersburg.

Before this, German troops had deliberately caused the deaths of an estimated 1.2 million people, who died from bombing, hunger and cold.

Germany's ambassador in Moscow, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, characterized the blockade as "a particularly shocking and brutal war crime in the midst of the criminal invasion of the Soviet Union."

Meanwhile, on the battlefield, the Russian military has stepped up its efforts to capture Ukrainian towns and villages in recent days, according to the Ukrainian military.

"The occupying forces have significantly increased the number of attacks and assaults - for the second day in a row, the enemy has carried out 50 combat operations," brigadier general Oleksandr Tarnavskyi wrote on his Telegram channel on Saturday.

Tarnavskyi, who is responsible for the front section in the south and south-east of Ukraine, said that the number of airstrikes has also increased.

The figures cited by Tarnavskyi apparently refer to the southern part of the Donetsk region.

He explicitly mentioned strikes against the towns of Myrnohrad and Novohrodiivka, which are located close to the front and which were hit with converted air defence missiles the day before.

Moscow launched a new offensive in the area in the autumn of 2023 to capture the town of Avdiivka, which borders directly on the large city of Donetsk and has been controlled by Russian forces since 2014.

According to media reports, after initially gaining ground, the Russians are barely making any progress despite the large amount of manpower and equipment they have deployed.

The Russian military reported the capture of small town of Maryinka, which lies in ruins to the south of Donetsk, at the end of December. Despite intensive attacks, the Russian forces have not succeeded in making any further advances.

Ukraine has been defending itself against the all-out Russian invasion with a significant amount of Western support. The fighting is still concentrated around the east and south.

Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive in June 2023, but progress has been limited. Kiev has vowed to retake all the land occupied the Russia, including the Crimean peninsula which the Kremlin annexed in 2014.

Even as the war drags on, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says international supporters are not losing energy in their support, despite current problems with weapons supplies.

"Despite various challenges and many difficulties, Ukraine has managed to maintain international attention for our, the Ukrainian struggle for independence," he said in his daily video address.

He reviewed progress made in the last month, underlining an agreement with Britain as a particular success and saying this would serve as a model for similar security agreements with other countries.

Zelensky also spoke of a "good dynamic" in terms of international defence aid, though he emphasized the importance of the US as the most important military supporter to date.

Meanwhile Ukraine and Lithuania discussed the joint production of drones during talks between the foreign minister of both countries.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said at a joint press conference in Kiev that a large part of the talks with his Lithuanian counterpart centred on this area.

Kuleba said, "Lithuania has the technologies, we have the opportunity to expand our cooperation, and that was the key topic."

The pair also discussed Ukraine's path to NATO membership, further military aid for the country and sanctions on Russia, he said.

Drones have proved one of the most important weapons in the war launched by the Kremlin.

Fear of a Russian attack runs high in the Baltic states and Vilnius is one of Kiev's most committed backers.