NATO chief warns Russia not to cross ‘very critical line’


BRUSSELS—If Russian President Vladimir Putin orders the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Thursday that he would cross a “very important line”. within a few days.

NATO will hold an exercise called “Stable Noon” next week. Long-term planning exercises are held at about the same time each year and run for about a week. Includes fighters capable of carrying nuclear warheads, but not live ammunition.

Russia typically conducts its own exercises around the same time, and NATO expects Russia to use its nuclear forces later this month. Stoltenberg said NATO would “watch closely” what Russia plans to do.

Asked what NATO would do if Russia launched a nuclear attack, Stoltenberg said: It means crossing a very important line. “

“Even the use of smaller nuclear weapons would be very serious and would fundamentally change the nature of the war in Ukraine, and of course it would have consequences,” he added.

Stoltenberg’s remarks came after a meeting of NATO’s secret nuclear program group in Brussels among defense ministers amid growing concerns over Putin’s claims that he would use whatever means necessary to defend Russian territory. was done after

The conference, which is usually held once or twice a year, has been held since the United States and some other NATO allies supply Ukraine with advanced weapons and munitions to defend itself against Russian airstrikes. It takes place amidst heightened tensions.

“Irresponsible and reckless rhetoric is dangerous,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said of Russia’s threat of possible use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. But Austin said the United States does not need to change its current military posture or response.

The European Union’s head of foreign policy, Josep Borrell, also warned Putin not to cross that threshold. “Any nuclear attack on Ukraine will not produce a nuclear answer, but a very strong military answer that will annihilate the Russian army,” he said in a speech in Bruges, Belgium.

NATO has been wary of Russia’s moves in the war with Ukraine, but so far there has been no change in Russia’s nuclear posture. But Putin’s nuclear exercises could make it more difficult for NATO to understand Russia’s intentions and increase the risk of an accident.

“Russia will also conduct its annual exercises in the week following or shortly after them,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told a news conference. But “what we don’t want is to do something out of the routine.”

“It’s a routine exercise and it’s all about preparation,” Wallace said. So that’s what this alliance does. It’s about 30 partners coming together to make sure we’re ready for whatever is thrown at us. And we have to keep working for it. “

Fourteen NATO member states will participate in the planned “Steadfast Noon” before Russia invades Ukraine on February 24.

NATO as an organization does not own weapons. Nuclear weapons, nominally tied to the Alliance, are tightly controlled by her three member states: the United States, Britain, and France. However, France insists on maintaining its nuclear independence and does not participate in the meetings of the Nuclear Program Group.

When faced with Ukrainian forces armed with Western weapons, Russian troops withdrew in several places, so Putin decided to annex four regions of Ukraine and create partial By declaring mobilization, we raised the stakes.

Putin has suggested that nuclear weapons could be relied on to protect Russia’s interests.

In an interview with France 2 television, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that France would not respond with a nuclear attack. He also warned of the leadership’s responsibility for nuclear rhetoric and has spoken to Putin “several times.”

“we [nuclear] It’s a clear doctrine,” Macron said. “The persuasion works. But the less we talk about it, the less threats we wield, the more credible.”

“Too many people talk about it,” he said.

Lone Cook

Associated Press