“We have made it clear and we told the Russians directly again today that if Russia further invades Ukraine, there will be significant costs and consequences.” The gulf between the United States and Russia appeared as stark as ever Wednesday, following a four-hour NATO meeting in Brussels, where U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman reiterated a warning to Russia over its massing of troops near Ukraine, and wondered why the nuclear-armed nation claimed it felt threatened by its much smaller neighbor. “They are a powerful country. The fact that they feel threatened by Ukraine, a smaller and still developing democracy, is hard to understand quite frankly. Why they need 100,000 troops on the border which they say are not for invasion but are for exercising, when live-fire exercises are reported this morning? What is this about? Is this about invasion, is this about intimidation, is this about trying to be subversive, I don’t know, but it is not conducive to getting to diplomatic solutions.”NATO said it was willing to talk to Russia about arms control and missile deployments to avert the risk of war in Europe but would not allow Moscow to veto Ukraine’s ambition to join NATO one day. At a lengthy news conference, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said Russia could not take seriously NATO’s claim to be a defensive alliance that posed no threat to Russia. “We have honestly, explicitly, and without trying to cut corners using the politically correct forms, pointed out that further deterioration in ties could lead to unpredictable and severe consequences for European security. Russia disagrees with such a scenario.” Afterward, Grushko said Moscow would use military means to neutralize security threats if diplomacy proved insufficient. The talks were set to continue on Thursday in Vienna.