Ukraine Fight May Turn Into Large Conflict, Slovak Premier Says

The fighting between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian rebels may evolve into a “large” military conflict involving more nations, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said today.

The government in Kiev and its allies already blame Russia for stoking the clashes in eastern Ukraine, which have killed more than 4,300 people and left at least 10,000 wounded. Russia denies it’s involved. The U.S. said Russia keeps arming the militants as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe questioned a possible new cease-fire agreement. The situation in Ukraine, Slovakia’s eastern neighbor, is “unsustainable,” with risk of an escalation, Fico said.

“There is a 70 percent probability of a military conflict,” Fico said at a conference in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, NATO and European Union member. “I’m talking about a large military conflict. I’m not talking about a Russia-Ukraine conflict.”

Russian heavy weapons continue to be sent across the border to Ukrainian rebels, a U.S. official told reporters as Secretary of State John Kerry began talks with North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies on the conflict in Brussels today.

Fico sees developments in Ukraine as a geopolitical clash between the U.S. and Russia, in which the EU plays a “third-class” role. He said the solution should include a chance for Ukraine to enter the EU once it meets the criteria, while it should stay away from NATO membership.

“It would be best to definitely say that Ukraine may not join NATO because of security reasons,” said Fico, who has criticized EU sanctions against Russia in the past. Thoughts about Ukraine’s NATO membership are “needless provocations,” he said

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