US Defense Secretary Austin Says NATO Will be in Fight With Russia if Ukraine Falls

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pauses while speaking during a press conference at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on February 1, 2024. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was hospitalized again on February 11, a Pentagon spokesman said, this time “for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” weeks after a previous stay he controversially kept secret.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Thursday that he “really believes” that if Ukraine loses in the ongoing conflict, NATO will have to fight Russia next. “Quite frankly, if Ukraine falls, I really believe that NATO will be in a fight with Russia,” Austin told a House Armed Services Committee hearing.”Is this a direct threat to Russia or an attempt to make an excuse for Zelensky? Both are insane. But now everyone sees who the aggressor is, it’s Washington,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented in response to the statement.

Western countries have provided hundreds of billions of dollars worth of aid to Ukraine since the start of Russia's special military operation in February 2022. Aid shipments began in 2022 with artillery munitions and training and have escalated to include tanks, advanced air-defense systems, missiles and cluster munitions.

The Kremlin has consistently warned against the West’s continued arms deliveries to Ukraine, saying that they only prolong the conflict, adding that Western military equipment will be eventually destroyed. Moscow also cautioned that NATO countries “are playing with fire” by providing Kiev with arms.

In recent years, the North Atlantic alliance had particularly disregarded Moscow's offers related to NATO and the US, which aimed to provide security assurances. These proposals included an agreement that would enforce a mutual commitment from both Russia and NATO to refrain from positioning troops, ships, or aircraft in proximity to one another.

World2024 Munich Security Index: Most G7 Nations No Longer See Russia as Top Threat13 February, 16:26 GMTMoscow has repeatedly warned NATO against its eastward expansion, which the Kremlin says could further inflame tensions in Europe. Russia has stressed that the country has no aggressive intentions towards any states, while NATO aims to expand into the post-Soviet space to foment conflicts near Russia’s borders. NATO also conducts regular exercises close to the borders of Russia under the pretext of perceived “Russian threat”.

After a Paris-hosted conference on Ukraine on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that Western leaders had discussed the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine and had neither reached a consensus on the matter nor ruled out the possibility. Several NATO countries, including Germany, Italy, Poland, Finland and Hungary, have since distanced themselves from Macron’s comment, emphasizing that they have no intention of deploying troops on the ground in Ukraine.


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