Russia says Zelenskiy’s ‘preventive strike’ comments justify its Ukraine ‘special operation’

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visits Moscow

(Reuters) -Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that remarks by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy suggesting NATO should launch preventive strikes on Russia confirmed the need for what it calls its “special operation” in Ukraine.

“By doing so, (he) essentially presented the world with further evidence of the threats posed by the Kyiv regime,” Lavrov said. “This is why a special military operation was launched to neutralise them.”

In a discussion with an Australian think tank on Thursday, Zelenskiy said he believed strikes were necessary to preclude any use of nuclear weapons.

He did not go into detail about what kind of strikes he meant, and made no reference to any need for nuclear strikes.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced Zelenskiy’s comments as “an appeal to start yet another world war with unpredictable, monstrous consequences”, according to RIA news agency.

Russia launched its “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its neighbour. Ukraine and Western nations have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for invasion.

(Reporting by ReutersEditing by Mark Heinrich and Nick Macfie)

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