WASHINGTON (Agencies): In a dramatic escalation, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has issued a stark warning to NATO allies in Eastern Europe: Prepare for a potential direct clash with Russia. Austin emphasized that Moscow “will not stop” if it prevails against Ukrainian forces.

Speaking before the US House Armed Services Committee, Austin urged lawmakers to swiftly approve additional funding for Kiev’s war effort. His message was clear: Time is running out, and the stakes are high.

“If you are a Baltic state, you are really worried about whether you are next,” Austin asserted. “And, frankly, if Ukraine falls, I really believe that NATO will be in a fight with Russia.”

The situation in Ukraine has reached a critical juncture. Washington initially rallied behind Kiev when Russia launched its military operation in 2022. However, the $45 billion war chest has been depleted, and US assistance has dwindled following Ukraine’s unsuccessful summer counteroffensive.

President Vladimir Zelensky recently issued a dire warning: Without continued US support, Ukraine will “surely lose the war.” Yet, a new $60 billion aid package for Kiev faces congressional gridlock, with Republican opposition complicating matters.

The US military grapples with tough decisions. Officials are considering tapping into the last remaining $4 billion allocated for Ukraine. However, there are no guarantees that lawmakers will replenish the funds, given the heated debate over renewed aid.

Meanwhile, Russia remains steadfast in its opposition to Western arms shipments to Ukraine. The Kremlin contends that such supplies only prolong the conflict and directly involve the West in hostilities. Their message is unequivocal: All Western-supplied arms will “burn” on the battlefield.

As tensions escalate, the world watches nervously, hoping for a peaceful resolution. But the clock is ticking, and the fate of Ukraine hangs in the balance.

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