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US, NATO allies risking ‘all-out nuclear conflict’ with Russia: Ex-senator

Russian and US state flags fly near a factory in Vsevolozhsk, Leningrad Region, Russia, March 27, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

The United States' belligerent policy toward Russia is driven by an amorphous array of bureaucrats and lobbyists, says a former US state senator, adding that Washington does not comprehend the gravity of its provocative moves in siding with Ukraine.

The United States, its NATO allies and Ukraine accuse Moscow of massing troops near Ukraine's border for a possible invasion. The US also claims that NATO allies are “prepared to impose severe costs” on Moscow if it attempts an invasion.

Russia says there is no such plan, but it has warned against any provocation from Ukraine that could trigger such an invasion.

“It is not clear that Western officials understand the gravity of what they are doing. It is unlikely that Russia can accept stationing of nuclear weapons or even large-scale movements of NATO troops into Ukraine,” Richard H. Black, a former state senator from Virginia, told Press TV.

“Ukraine is not a part of NATO, but the alliance increasingly talks of war to help Ukraine recover areas that have seceded from it. If NATO were to make war against Russia, the chances of escalation into an all-out nuclear conflict would be high,” he added.

Black pointed the finger of blame at Ukraine for the escalation between Moscow and NATO, stressing that the US-led military alliance’s talk of war is aimed at helping Kiev recover the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk in the Crimean Peninsula, which rejoined Russia in a 2014 referendum.

“The Ukrainian army is moving aggressively against this small pocket of Russian-speaking people. Ukraine has deployed heavy mortars and artillery to shell the enclave, and has carried out 200 unprovoked attacks in recent weeks,” the former senator said.

“Ukraine claims that Russia has deployed 94,000 troops near the border. However, not a single Russian soldier is outside of his own country. Meanwhile, Ukraine has unlawfully amassed 125,000 troops within the deconfliction zone established by the Minsk agreements which were intended to defuse tensions there,” he added.

Asked about US President Joe Biden’s declaration of commitment to defending Ukraine in case of a Russian attack, Black said, “The United States has no legal commitment to Ukraine, and few Americans even know where the distant country is located.”

“Unlike Russia and China, American foreign policy is driven by an amorphous array of bureaucrats, think tanks, multi-national organizations, billionaire oligarchs, and powerful lobbyists. They tug and pull Western foreign policy in an increasingly reckless and militant direction,” the former senator said.

Moscow says Washington is involved in aggressive moves in the Black Sea, where Ukraine and the United States have held military drills recently.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the West and Kiev against crossing the Kremlin's "red lines" over staging military exercises and sending weaponry to Ukraine.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been deteriorating since 2014, when the then-Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum to fall under Russian sovereignty. The US and the European Union-backed Kiev refused to recognize the referendum results.

Ukraine as well as the EU and the US also claim Russia has a hand in an ongoing conflict that erupted in the Donbass region of Ukraine between government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014. The West imposed sanctions on Russia after accusing it of interfering in the conflict. Moscow denies the allegation.

Ukraine claims that Russia has deployed heavy-armored vehicles, electronic warfare systems and nearly 100,000 soldiers around its borders, while Russia says Ukraine has deployed half of its army, or 125,000 troops, to the ethnic Russian region of Donbass, calling it “very dangerous adventurism” by Kiev.

The Kremlin has warned that the US and NATO are turning Ukraine into a “powder keg” by increasing arms supplies to Kiev and inflaming tensions in the country's volatile east.

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