A war between Russia and Ukraine could see Americans suffer "excruciating death and suffering beyond comprehension", a former presidential candidate has warned.
Former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has predicted a terrifying vision of the future should the USA choose to intervene in the conflict in Eastern Europe.
There has been a substantial military buildup at Ukraine's border and into Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
Nato's secretary general has called Russia's deployment of as many as 80,000 troops to the area "unjustified, unexplained and deeply concerning".
The Kremlin maintains it is an "internal affair", while Vladimir Putin's spokesman accused Nato of "threatening behaviour" and demanded the intergovernmental alliance stay out of it.
The escalating tensions are forcing other nations to consider which side they would take should war break out, if any.
US President Joe Biden reportedly spent the weekend holed up in the Oval Office discussing the matter with senior advisers, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken threatened Russia would face "consequences" should it act "recklessly or aggressively".
However Gabbard says the USA needs to be careful in its approach because of the potentially devastating consequences of going to war with Russia, a nuclear power with the world's largest stockpile of warheads.
"It is moving in a very dangerous direction, and the question for the American people is 'are we willing to go to war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine?'," she told Fox News on Monday.
"We need to understand that such a war will come at a cost beyond anything we can imagine."
Gabbard, who served in Iraq and Kuwait and ran for president in 2020, warned that Americans won't be able to brush off the conflict as a matter of distant foreign policy.
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"This is not going to be a war of 'okay, this is happening to someone else on the other side of the world'," she said.
"This is something that will impact me and you and every single one of your viewers and all of our loved ones.
"This is a war that is not a game. This is a war in which there are no winners. This is a war in which you've got thousands of nuclear weapons that the United States has aimed towards Russia.
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"Russia has thousands of nuclear weapons aimed towards us that could hit any town or city in America in less than 30 minutes and exact a cost on every one of us that would result in excruciating death and suffering beyond comprehension."
She went on to describe the gruesome reality of nuclear war, mentioning "hundreds of millions of people dying and suffering, seeing their flesh being burned from bones".
Gabbard was insistent that President Biden must avoid war with Russia at all costs as it will "bring about the end of the world as we know it".
"If he doesn't it will not be a question of if we go to war with Russia, if we end up with a nuclear holocaust, but a matter of when…and it could be a lot quicker than any of us imagine."
In 2003 the UK joined forces with the USA in the invasion of Iraq, an eight-year occupation that killed thousands and is now widely regarded as a disaster forged on the premise that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which never materialised.
The Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office have both been approached for comment.
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