Senior Russian officer warns Ukraine conflict could escalate into full war in Europe

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A senior Russian military officer has warned that the conflict in Ukraine could escalate into a full-scale war in Europe and said the probability of Moscow’s forces becoming involved in a new conflict is increasing “significantly.”

Colonel-General Vladimir Zarudnitsky, head of the Russian army’s Military Academy of the General Staff, made the comments in an article for “Military Thought”, a defense ministry publication, the state RIA news agency reported on Thursday.

“The possibility of an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine - from the expansion of participants in ‘proxy forces’ used for military confrontation with Russia to a large-scale war in Europe - cannot be ruled out,” RIA cited him a saying.

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“The main source of military threats to our state is the anti-Russian policy of the United States and its allies, who are conducting a new type of hybrid warfare in order to weaken Russia in every possible way, limit its sovereignty and destroy its territorial integrity,” he was quoted as saying.

“The likelihood of our state being purposefully drawn into new military conflicts is significantly increasing.”

The war in Ukraine has triggered the deepest crisis in Russia’s relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and President Vladimir Putin has warned that the West risks provoking a nuclear war if it sends troops to fight in Ukraine.

Putin has cast his decision to send tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022 as a special military operation designed to secure Russia’s own security against an increasingly hostile US-backed Ukrainian leadership. Kyiv says it is defending itself against an imperial-style war of conquest designed to erase its national identity.

Zarudnitsky’s comments come at a time when the West is scrambling to help Ukraine with more arms and financing after Kyiv’s failed counteroffensive last summer and after Russian forces regained the initiative on the battlefield.

Zarudnitsky advocated a number of changes in the way Russia organizes its military and security, RIA added, including placing greater emphasis on relying on what he called friendly countries to ensure Russia’s own security and consolidating the whole of Russian society around its defense needs.

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