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Chances of NATO using nuclear weapons ‘extremely remote:’ Stoltenberg 

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday said the chances of the military alliance using nuclear weapons are “extremely remote” but underscored that Russia would face severe consequences if it uses such weapons in its war on Ukraine.  

“Circumstances in which NATO might have to use nuclear weapons are extremely remote,” Stoltenberg told reporters after a meeting of defense ministers about military aid to Ukraine. 

“Russia’s nuclear rhetoric is dangerous, reckless. And they know that if they use nuclear weapon against Ukraine it will have severe consequences. And they also know that a nuclear war cannot be won and should not be fought,” the NATO chief said. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently ramped-up his nuclear rhetoric in an apparent response to battlefield setbacks, stoking already-heightened international concern about the potential use of such weapons amid the war, now in its eighth month.  

But Stoltenberg’s assurance that the likelihood of NATO using nuclear weapons is low comes as U.S. leaders have commented that Russia would be met with a deliberate response, without specifying whether that response would include nuclear weapons in return.

Stoltenberg echoed other warnings of “severe consequences” if Russia moves to use nuclear weapons and said that NATO has communicated this to Moscow — though, like other officials, the NATO chief declined to go into further detail about what that response would look like.  

“We will not go into exactly how we will respond. But of course, this will fundamentally change the nature of the conflict. It will mean that a very important line has been crossed. Even any use of the smaller nuclear weapon will be a very serious thing, fundamentally changing the nature of the war in Ukraine and of course, that will have consequences,” Stoltenberg said.  

Russia is expected to test its nuclear weapons systems in an annual exercise, causing some concern over whether a test would be distinguishable from preparations for a nuclear attack. Stoltenberg said NATO and its allies “have very good intelligence” and will remain vigilant “not least in light of the veiled nuclear threats and the dangerous nuclear rhetoric we have seen from the Russian side.” 

The Kremlin called out comments from Stoltenberg earlier this week after the NATO leader on Tuesday had said a Russian win in the war would be “a defeat for us all.” To Russia, the comments could be taken as confirmation that NATO is fighting on Ukraine’s side, Reuters reports.  

Tags Jens Stoltenberg Jens Stoltenberg NATO nuclear weapons russia Russia-Ukraine war ukraine Vladimir Putin
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