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29 Feb, 2024 23:57

Pentagon warns of direct Russia-NATO clash

The US defense secretary calls for additional funding for Kiev’s war effort before it’s too late
Pentagon warns of direct Russia-NATO clash

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has warned eastern NATO members to prepare to fight Russia, claiming that Moscow “will not stop” if it defeats Kiev’s forces.

Addressing the US House Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday, Austin once again urged lawmakers to approve additional funding for Kiev’s war effort, painting a grim picture for NATO allies.

”If you are a Baltic state, you are really worried about whether you are next… And, frankly, if Ukraine falls, I really believe that NATO will be in a fight with Russia,” the Pentagon chief said.

Austin went on to claim that “other autocrats around the world will look at this and will be encouraged by the fact that this happened and we failed to support a democracy.”

Washington quickly became Kiev’s top backer after Russia launched its military operation in 2022, but the $45 billion war chest has been spent and US assistance all but ground to a halt after Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive failed to make any significant gains.

President Vladimir Zelensky reportedly warned last week that his country would “surely lose the war” without continued US support, as a new $60 billion aid package for Kiev faces gridlock in Congress amid Republican opposition.

The US military is considering whether to draw on its last remaining $4 billion allocated for Ukraine – even with no assurances the money will be replaced by lawmakers amid fierce debate over renewed aid, multiple officials told CNN.

Russia has repeatedly denounced Western arms shipments to Ukraine, warning that they will only prolong the conflict and make the West a direct participant in the hostilities, and stating that all Western-supplied arms would “burn” on the battlefield.