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MOSCOW: Russia said on Monday that US, British and French military support for Ukraine has pushed the world to the brink of a direct clash between the world’s biggest nuclear powers that could end in catastrophe.

President Vladimir Putin’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine has touched off the worst breakdown in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, according to Russian and US diplomats.

Just two days after US lawmakers approved billions of dollars in additional military aid to Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the United States and NATO were obsessed with the idea of inflicting “strategic defeat” on Russia.

Lavrov said Western support for Ukraine was putting the United States and its allies on the verge of a direct military clash with Russia.

“The Westerners are teetering dangerously on the brink of a direct military clash between nuclear powers, which is fraught with catastrophic consequences,” Lavrov told a Moscow conference on non-proliferation.

“Of particular concern is the fact that it is the ‘troika’ of Western nuclear states that are among the key sponsors of the criminal Kyiv regime, the main initiators of various provocative steps. We see serious strategic risks in this, leading to an increase in the level of nuclear danger.”

Since the war began, Russia has repeatedly warned of rising nuclear risks - warnings which the United States says it has to take seriously, though US officials say they have seen no change in Russian nuclear posture.

Putin casts the war as part of a centuries-old battle with a decadent West which he says humiliated Russia after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 by enlarging NATO and encroaching on what Moscow considers to be Russia’s historical sphere of influence.

Ukraine and its Western backers say the war is an imperial-style land grab by a corrupt dictatorship that will lead Russia into a strategic dead-end. Western leaders have vowed to work for a defeat of Russian forces in Ukraine, while ruling out any deployment of NATO personnel there.

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