Russia Ukraine conflict

‘This is a fight he really doesn’t want’: Pentagon chief warns Russia’s Putin

“If Russia decided to attack any nation that’s a NATO member, that’s a game-changer,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

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US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Wednesday against attacking any NATO nation, saying such a move would be a “game changer.”

“This is a fight that he [Putin] really doesn’t want to have,” Austin told lawmakers during a hearing with the top US military general, Gen. Mark Milley.

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But Austin said he believed Russia wouldn’t want to take such a risk. “As you look at Putin’s calculus, my view… is that Russia doesn’t want to take on the NATO alliance.”

He added: “If Russia decided to attack any nation that’s a NATO member, that’s a game-changer.”

Austin revealed that NATO members had already discussed what kind of response would be carried out in the event of a Russian attack.

Article 5 of the NATO treaty states that if a NATO ally is attacked, “each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist.”

The US defense secretary pointed to the almost 2 million forces in NATO and the “most advanced capabilities of any alliance in the world.”

Asked if the US was prepared to respond to such an attack, Gen. Milley said, “the short answer is yes.”

“Militarily, we are very capable of responding to any form or fashion of escalation if directed by the president,” he said.

Milley said the US was monitoring the situation and the potential for escalation “every single day.”

Putin ordered a so-called “special military operation” in February, claiming that he would liberate Russian-speaking towns in Ukraine from “neo-Nazis.”

After initially offering Ukraine’s president a route to flee the country, Ukrainian resistance has drawn international praise and forced the West to recalculate its belief that Russia would overthrow the government in Kyiv within days.

Fighting has gone on for over 75 days now, and Russia has had to reshape and re-prioritize its goals in Ukraine.

The international community has united to provide Ukraine with military assistance as well as crushing economic sanctions on Russia and its oligarchs.

But NATO members, including the US, have said they have no intention of deploying troops to Ukraine to fight against Russia.

Read more: Russia planning to annex Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk later this month: US official

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