China Urges Restraint After Russia Warns of World War III

China said Tuesday that "no one" wants to see a third world war and that it hopes the "relevant parties" in the Ukraine crisis can prevent the conflict from escalating further.

Speaking at his regular press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin warned of a "heavier price" on Europe and the rest of the world and encouraged the involved parties to reach a peaceful resolution as soon as possible.

"Under the current circumstances, all parties should, first and foremost, support dialogue and negotiation to prevent the expansion and prolongation of conflicts," he said.

The Foreign Ministry's comments came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke openly about the "serious" risk of World War III in an interview that aired Monday. The conflict in the Russia-Ukraine war has so far involved only the two countries, although Ukraine is receiving substantial military aid from other nations, including the U.S. But there are concerns that the conflict could expand and involve the international community.

China Response to WW3 Comments
China said Tuesday that both sides in the Ukraine war must prevent the conflict from escalating further. Above, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin speaks in Beijing on November 9, 2020. Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Lavrov was taking part in an interview with Russia's Channel One when he brought up the possibility of an escalation of the Russia-Ukraine war into a nuclear conflict. A week before, in an interview with India Today, he insisted that Russia would use "conventional weapons only" in the Ukraine conflict.

Lavrov's remarks about a nuclear conflict seemed to arise from the possibility that the war could spread beyond Ukraine's borders and result in a major nuclear power like the U.S. becoming involved militarily.

Lavrov also said during the Channel One interview that both Moscow and Washington should commit again to the pledge from former Russian and American leaders Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan that "there can be no winners in a nuclear war."

"The risks are very significant [for a third world war]. I don't want them artificially inflated," Lavrov said. "The danger is serious, real. It cannot be underestimated."

Russia is not the only key player in the Ukrainian conflict that has spoken about the possibility of a third world war.

On CNN last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that there could be a third world war if peace talks with Russia aren't successful.

President Joe Biden said during remarks last month that the U.S. "will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine" because a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia would be "World War III, something we must strive to prevent."

Newsweek reached out to Russia's and China's foreign ministries for comment.