NATO holds nuclear talks amid war tensions and threats from Putin
NATO’s secret nuclear planning group met on Thursday as the military alliance pushes ahead with plans to hold a nuclear exercise next week amid growing concerns over President Vladimir Putin’s insistence on the fact that he will use all necessary means to defend Russian territory.
Defense ministers led the session, which usually takes place once or twice a year, at NATO headquarters in Brussels. This comes amid high tension as some NATO allies, led by the United States, supply Ukraine with advanced weapons and ammunition to defend against Russian air attacks.
NATO is keeping a cautious eye on Russia’s moves, but has so far seen no change in its nuclear posture.
But additional uncertainty comes from the fact that Russia is also due to hold its own nuclear exercises soon, perhaps at the same time as NATO or soon after, according to NATO diplomats. This could complicate the reading of the war by the military organization of the 30 countries and Moscow’s intentions.
“Russia will also conduct its annual exercise, I think, the week after or right after the annual exercise,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told reporters. But “what we don’t want is to do things routinely”. “This is a routine exercise and it’s all about preparation,” Wallace said, just like “the NATO meeting is about making sure we’re ready for anything. I mean, it’s is the job of this alliance – to make sure that all 30 partners together are ready for what is thrown at us. And we must continue to work on that. The NATO exercise, dubbed “Steadfast Noon”, has takes place around the same time each year and lasts about a week.These are combat aircraft capable of carrying nuclear warheads, but do not involve any live bombs.Conventional jet aircraft and surveillance aircraft and refueling also participate regularly.
Fourteen NATO member countries will be involved in the exercise, which was planned before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Most of the maneuvers will take place more than 1,000 kilometers from Russia.
NATO as an organization has no weapons. The nuclear weapons notionally linked to the alliance remain under the firm control of three member countries – the United States, the United Kingdom and France. But France insists on maintaining its nuclear independence and does not participate in the meetings of the Nuclear Planning Group.
As the Russian military retreated under the blows of Ukrainian forces armed with Western weapons, Putin upped the ante by annexing four Ukrainian regions and declaring a partial mobilization of up to 300,000 reservists to reinforce the front line in ruins.
As his war plans went awry, Putin repeatedly signaled that he might resort to nuclear weapons to protect Russian gains. The threat is also intended to deter NATO countries from sending more sophisticated weapons to Ukraine.
In an interview with France 2 television on Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron warned of the responsibilities of leaders when it comes to nuclear rhetoric. He said he spoke to Putin “several times”. “We have a (nuclear) doctrine that is clear,” Macron said. “Deterrence works. But then, the less we talk about it, the less we brandish the threat, the more credible we are.” “Too many people are talking about it,” he said.
Earlier this week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called Putin’s remarks “dangerous and reckless” and stressed that the allies “have also made it clear to Russia that this will have serious consequences on ‘they use nuclear weapons in any way’. Stoltenberg warned that it would be “absolutely the wrong signal to send” if the world’s largest security organization were to call off the maneuvers.
“The firm and predictable behavior of NATO, our military force, is the best way to prevent escalation,” he said. “If we now create the ground for misunderstandings, miscalculations in Moscow about our willingness to protect and defend all allies, we would increase the risk of escalation.”
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)