US and Norwegian officials fear Russia may deploy nuclear weapons in response to Ukraine counterattack

A senior U.S. State Department official and two Norwegian defense-focused politicians believe Russian President Vladimir Putin will deploy nuclear weapons in response to Ukraine’s planned spring counterattack, which will begin in the coming weeks. I am afraid that

According to Kiev Interior Minister Anton Gerashenko, the Ukrainian army plans to launch an offensive as soon as Western tanks and long-range rockets arrive, which could be as early as April.Its main regional target is the Russian-occupied Crimea, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky swore Pick up on February 26th.

Speaking at the Norwegian embassy, ​​Assistant Secretary of State Douglas Jones and Norwegian MP Åsmund Auklust told the Epoch Times that there is a real possibility of a nuclear expansion in Ukraine, which both NATO members are concerned about. said.

The official spoke with Ine Eriksen Soleide, chairman of Norway’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense, at the Atlantic Council’s “Looking North: Conference on security in the Arctic” event on Thursday.

sum of all fears

Jones said he was worried. “The comment is [Russia] It was really irresponsible to follow the nuclear escalation,” he said.

Jones threatened “serious consequences” for Russia if it crossed the atomic line, but did not specify what these effects would be. He said non-NATO countries such as China and India have issued statements consistent with the United States on the issue.

US Secretary of State Antony Brinken revealed on February 23 that the US behind the scenes urged foreign powers to preemptively urge Putin to oppose the use of nuclear weapons. The effort, though successful, took place last spring, and since then relations between China and Russia have strengthened.

Epoch Times photo
US Secretary of State Anthony Brinken speaks during a press conference as a bystander to the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi, India, March 2, 2023. (Reuters/Amit Dave)

“Nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought,” Jones concluded.

Jones’ Norwegian counterpart Oak Crust, deputy chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense, acknowledged the seriousness of the nuclear threat.

“It could still happen and just saying it shows how very dangerous this is,” he said. “It’s important not to underestimate Russia.”

Putin recently withdrew from the New START Treaty, the last remaining nuclear weapons ban treaty between Russia and the United States.

Calling attention to the Arctic region, Søreide noted that many of Russia’s fissile weapons are housed in the north.

“The northern highlands are the home of most of our nuclear capabilities and the area of ​​operations,” she said, suggesting that these facilities could be involved if Russian infantry continues to suffer losses.[This] This is a huge strategic challenge for NATO, and I’m not sure it fully takes into account what it means. Because we are now watching how much NATO is losing on the ground in Ukraine. ”

A recent Norwegian intelligence report claims that ships within Russia’s “Northern Fleet” (the country’s naval fortress) carry nuclear warheads. Moscow’s only aircraft carrier and the flagship of the Northern Fleet, she left the docks on February 22 after being deployed for the first time since 2016.

Risk of targeting Crimea

Putin said in September that he would respond with a nuclear strike “if there is a threat to Russia’s territorial integrity.” He considers Crimea, the southern peninsula currently in view of Ukrainian forces, to be Russian territory.

The Russian military launched a raid in 2014 in retaliation for the US-backed deportation of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who was sacked after ignoring the European Union for a multi-billion dollar trade deal with Russia. Crimea was annexed early.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych exchange documents during a signing ceremony after meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, December 17, 2013. (Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo/Reuters)

Most of the peninsula’s current residents consider themselves Russian and support Moscow’s leadership.

A 2015 poll conducted by German data intelligence firm GfK found that 93% of respondents “support Russia’s annexation.”

On Tuesday, MSNBC – with correspondent Kiel Simmons on the scene – reported that Crimeans “think of themselves as Russians” and consider the occupation “unrealistic.” Simmons warned that Ukraine’s encirclement of the peninsula would mean that NATO weapons could soon be used against Russian civilians, resulting in a severe escalation in the year-long conflict.

Simmons added that Putin would do “almost anything” to avoid losing Crimea’s Sevastopol port, which provides critical access to the Black Sea and is Russia’s only warm-water port.

according to PoliticoBrinken said in February that Crimea was Putin’s “red line” but refused to make a decision, saying the decision to retake the peninsula lay in Kiev.

Venture capitalist and outspoken critic of the Ukraine war, David Sachs, responded to the MSNBC segment, saying it exposed the Biden administration’s complete lack of vision for foreign policy.

“This is a big acknowledgment because it means that Biden’s policy that ‘only Ukrainians can decide the purpose of the war’ doesn’t make sense,” he wrote on Twitter Wednesday. , effectively devolving our foreign policy to Zelensky, who is pursuing ends with which we disagree.”