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1 Mar, 2024 08:29

Moscow reacts to Pentagon’s warning of direct Russia-NATO clash

The statement by US defense chief Lloyd Austin shows who the real aggressor is, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said
Moscow reacts to Pentagon’s warning of direct Russia-NATO clash

A claim by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that NATO and Russia could end up in a direct confrontation if Kiev loses its conflict with Moscow is “mad,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.

During a US House Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday, Austin suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin “won’t stop” if his forces prevail against Ukraine. Russia’s neighbors in the Baltic region “understand Putin and his capabilities. And frankly, if Ukraine falls, I genuinely believe NATO will be fighting Russia,” the Pentagon chief said.

In a post on Telegram later in the day, Zakharova said she wondered whether Austin’s remarks were “a direct threat to Russia or an attempt to come up with an excuse for [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky?”

“In both cases, it’s mad,” she insisted. “But now everyone sees who the aggressor is – it’s Washington.”

The Pentagon chief’s statement came as Republican lawmakers continue to resist attempts by the administration of US President Joe Biden to push through another $60 billion in military aid for Ukraine. Several lawmakers are demanding that assistance to Kiev be paired with measures to secure the border with Mexico.

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who visited Kiev last week, said Ukraine is currently “losing the war” to Russia. According to Schumer, Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials made it clear to him that “if they don’t get the aid, they will surely lose the war.”

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron hinted that NATO forces could be sent to Ukraine if the situation for Kiev continues to deteriorate. There is “no consensus” among the US-led bloc’s members about deploying troops in Ukraine, but “in terms of dynamics, we cannot exclude anything. We will do everything necessary to prevent Russia from winning this war,” he pledged.

In the days since then, the US, Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany and other NATO members have distanced themselves from Macron’s remarks, stressing that there are no plans to use the bloc’s forces in Ukraine.

In his address to the Federal Assembly on Thursday, Putin again rejected speculation by the US and its allies that Russia might target NATO states. “The West provoked the conflict in Ukraine... and they continue to lie. Now, without any shame, they say that Russia supposedly intends to attack Europe. We here understand that it’s nonsense,” he stressed.

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