Is NATO on the Verge of Going to War with Russia?

Is NATO on the Verge of Going to War with Russia?
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Top German officials have voiced anxiety regarding Western escalations in Ukraine, signaling that Berlin will push back against the most provocative proposals. 

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany was reluctant to send longer-range weapons to Ukraine over concerns the arms will be used to attack Russian territory. London has provided Kiev with Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missiles which have a range of more than 155 miles. According to recent reporting, the White House is also closing in on a decision to provide Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), munitions capable of striking targets roughly 200 miles away. 

Last month, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu warned the West that Ukraine using long-range weapons to attack the Crimean Peninsula could lead to a direct war between Moscow and NATO. “The use of these missiles outside the zone of our special military operation would mean that the United States and Britain would be fully dragged into the conflict and would entail immediate strikes on decision-making centers in Ukraine,” he said.

Berlin is now receiving requests from Kiev to provide Taurus KEPD 350 missiles, an air-launched missile with a range of over 300 miles. Scholz said Germany is considering the request. 

Germany has faced intense pressure throughout the war due to Berlin’s occasional reluctance to provide Kiev with all requested aid. However, officials have repeatedly caved to Kiev’s demands. In one example, Germany resisted sending its Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, but quickly reversed course after Poland, the UK and the US pledged to send their own advanced tanks. Dozens of its Leopard 2s were ultimately provided. 

Some of the German tanks have already been destroyed on the battlefield and Kiev is asking Berlin for replacements. Meanwhile, the American Abrams tanks have not yet arrived in the country due, in part, to a lengthy refurbishment process. 

Berlin has also pushed back on plans to give Ukraine an official timeline for NATO membership at an alliance summit in Vilnius next week. In an interview published in Rzeczpospolita on Monday, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the military bloc could not resolve the issue until the conclusion of the war with Russia. 

“In my recent meetings with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, we were once again in agreement that the Alliance must never become a party to a conflict,” he said. “Therefore, we will not be able to answer the question of Ukraine’s accession to NATO as long as the war continues in Ukraine.”

Pistorius went on to explain that Germany is committed to supporting Ukraine’s war effort for as long as the conflict continues, noting that Berlin would deliver dozens of older Leopard 1 tanks in the coming weeks.

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