Risks of a direct military confrontation between the two nuclear powers, Russia and the United States, are steadily growing, the TASS news agency quoted a senior Russian diplomat as saying on Tuesday.

Vladimir Yermakov, the foreign ministry’s head of nuclear non-proliferation, told the Russian state news agency that Washington is escalating the risks through its conduct with Moscow.

Since the start of its invasion on Ukraine 14 months ago, Moscow has issued regular charges against the US and what it calls “the collective West” for raising the risks of a nuclear war, rhetoric intended to deter Kyiv’s allies.

“If the United States continues to follow its current course of confrontation with Russia, with the stakes constantly escalating on the verge of sliding into direct armed conflict, then the fate of START (nuclear arms treaty) may be a foregone conclusion,” Mr. Yermakov said.

The US told Russia in March that it will cease exchanging some data on its nuclear forces following Moscow’s refusal to do so, calling it a response to Russia‘s suspending participation in the New START treaty.

Mr. Yermakov did not provide details of the alleged U.S. confrontational approach in the excerpts from the TASS interview published so far.

“The most acute threat today is associated … with the danger of nuclear escalation as a result of a direct military confrontation between nuclear powers,” Mr. Yermakov said.

“And these risks, to the deepest regret, are steadily growing.”

Moscow and Beijing will assess the West’s potential involvement in the global expansion of the US anti-missile system, which “clearly undermines strategic stability,” he added. – Reuters