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Ukraine war would spill over into the Middle East, potential top US General says

February 9, 2022 at 10:58 pm

Lieutenant General Michael E. Kurilla testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee February 8, 2022 in Washington, DC [Win McNamee/Getty Images]

The potential top US General in the Middle East has warned that a war in Ukraine between Western powers and Russia would likely spill over into the Middle East, seeming to confirm fears that some already hold.

In his hearing for the nomination for the head of the US Central Command yesterday, Lieutenant General, Michael E. Kurilla, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “If Russia does invade Ukraine they would not hesitate to be able to act as a spoiler in Syria as well”.

Over the past few months, Russian forces have been massing at their border with Ukraine in an apparent threat to invade it and annex the rest or other parts of the country, resulting in NATO member states deploying their forces and equipment to the region in an attempt to deter such an attack.

Talks between Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and various Western leaders have taken place over the months in efforts to calm the tensions, but the possibility of an offensive by Moscow or the breakout of conflict still remains uncertain to many.

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The assessment of Kurilla, however, who is set to take over from retiring Marine General, Frank McKenzie, would mean that the war in Ukraine could have far-reaching consequences and may impact areas such as Syria, where Russia already has forces stationed in.

Although he did not elaborate further on his prediction, he stressed that “the United States faces a new era of strategic competition with China and Russia that is not confined to one geographical region and extends into the [Central Command] area of responsibility” which he would oversee.

Kurilla expanded on the role of China as a rising adversary to the US, saying that while Washington “rightfully prioritises competition with China, we must remain engaged in the Middle East and Central and South Asia.” Those areas, he insisted, will be a main battleground between American and Chinese influence, pointing out that 18 of the 21 countries in the Central Command region have already signed strategic agreements with Beijing.

The projected top US General also advocated a pragmatic approach to dealing with the Taliban government in Afghanistan, up to the point of possibly working with it to combat the Daesh terror group in the country. Washington must also find ways to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, Kurilla said, proposing helping the Taliban deliver food packages and essentials.

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