Moscow sees NATO arming of Ukraine as engaging in a proxy battle against Russia, as Washington says the United States will press allies to further ramp up military support for Kiev.
In a question referencing World War III and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told state television this week that “the risks now are considerable.”
"I would not want to elevate those risks artificially. Many would like that. The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it," Lavrov said.
Austin, who will host a meeting of NATO defense officials in Germany, said he believed Kiev could defeat Moscow if Ukrainians had 'the right support'
"NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war."
Lavrov made his remarks after US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin was set to call on dozens of countries to discuss arming Ukraine to help it fight off Russia's latest military assault in the east.
Reports said Austin, who will host a meeting of NATO defense officials in Germany, said he believed Kiev could defeat Moscow if Ukrainians had "the right support."
During a visit to Kiev, the Secretary said Washington wanted to see Russia weakened militarily by the conflict.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba took things a step further following Lavrov's interview.
Kuleba accused Moscow of scaremongering and said this was a sign of weakness in Russia that had lost its "last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine."
"This only means Moscow senses defeat," Kuleba argued.