(OPINION) NATO could be dragged into a war with Russia if Vladimir Putin’s forces are not stopped in Ukraine, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned.

Speaking at a Republican-led House Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday (Thursday, February 29), Austin said he believes Putin will not stop if Ukraine falls and Russia wins the war.

This would mean NATO will almost certainly be drawn into conflict if Kyiv is defeated by Moscow’s forces, he added. Austin told committee members: “We know that if Putin is successful here, he will not stop. He will continue to take more aggressive action in the region.”


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The Secretary of Defense warned that other despots would be emboldened by a Putin victory. “Other leaders around the world, other autocrats, will look at this and they’ll be encouraged by the fact that this happened and we failed to support a democracy,” he said.

Austin then offered his chilling warning that NATO will almost certainly be dragged into a war with Russia.

“If you’re a Baltic state, you’re really worried about whether or not you’re next,” he said. “They know Putin, they know what he’s capable of … And quite frankly, if Ukraine falls, I really believe that NATO will be in a fight with Russia.”

The comments came after Congress refused to approve Joe Biden’s request for a $60 billion military aid package for Ukraine, reported Newsweek. Whilst there was bipartisan support for the aid package, it stalled amid disputes over border security.

His warning also came as a huge NATO strike force took command of 5,000 US Navy sailors and Marines – plus a flotilla of warships – at a key location that controls access to the Middle East, North Africa, and Eurasia. The transfer of command took place in the East Mediterranean, close to Israel and Gaza – and the Russian Navy’s Tartus base in Syria.

A US Navy spokesperson said: “This transfer of authority constitutes a tangible, transparent display of advanced capabilities in the maritime domain and the defensive commitment of the NATO Alliance across Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) Area of Responsibility.”