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(LifeSiteNews) — A senior European Union (EU) official claimed that Russia is effectively “at war with NATO and the West” two days after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine.

Stefano Sannino, secretary general of the EU’s European External Action Service, uttered the curious statement last Friday at a news conference in Tokyo during an Asia-Pacific tour, according to the Associated Press.

In his remarks, Sannino criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for taking the invasion of Ukraine to a “different stage,” specifically in moving “from a concept of special operation to a concept now of a war against NATO and the West.”

Sannino claimed the supranational body itself is not moving the conflict to a “different stage,” but merely “giving the possibility of saving lives and allowing the Ukrainians to defend [themselves].” He implied Russia’s “indiscriminate” conduct is the reason for the tank shipments.

“I think that this latest development in terms of armed supply is just an evolution of the situation and of the way Russia started moving the war into a different stage,” Sannino said at the news conference.

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Sannino’s remarks echo those of German foreign affairs minister Annalena Baerbock, who said last Tuesday that the EU is “fighting a war against Russia.”

The United States and Germany announced in a de facto policy shift Wednesday that they would send a combined 45 tanks to assist Ukraine in fending off the Russian invasion. The U.S. will supply 31 M1 Abrams tanks, while Germany will provide 14 Leopard 2 tanks and allow other EU countries to supply Ukraine with those tanks.

However, the American tank shipment is not expected to arrive in Ukraine for several months, possibly another year. A White House spokeswoman explained that the U.S. does not currently have an excess stockpile of M1 Abrams. Observers expect Russia to launch a new offensive sometime in the spring, well before any American tanks arrive.

Not all EU countries are on board with tank shipments to Ukraine. The president of Croatia, also a NATO member country, has spoken out against increased Western involvement in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“I am against sending any lethal arms there,” Zoran Milanovic told reporters Monday morning. “It prolongs the war.”

“What is the goal? Disintegration of Russia, change of the government? There is also talk of tearing Russia apart. This is mad,” the Croatian president added.

Last week Milanovic criticized Baerbock’s remarks about the EU fighting a war against Russia.

“Now the German foreign minister says we must be united, because I quote, we are at war with Russia. I didn’t know that,” he said. “Maybe Germany is at war with Russia, but then, good luck, maybe this time it turns out better than 70-odd years ago.”