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NATO official says alliance would be forced to take action if Russia uses chemical, nuclear weapons

NATO heads of state pose for a group photo during an extraordinary NATO summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels
Associated Press/Thibault Camus

NATO Deputy-General Secretary Mircea Geoana said in an interview with The Associated Press that the group would respond if Russia used chemical or nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine.

“NATO is a defensive alliance, but also it’s a nuclear alliance,” said Geoana, who is also the former Romanian foreign minister and ambassador to the United States. “If they will be using chemical weapons or other kinds of higher-end systems against Ukraine, this will be changing fundamentally the nature of the war that Mr. Putin has waged against Ukraine.”

“I can guarantee that NATO is ready to respond proportionately,” Geoana added.

Geoana would not detail to the AP what those actions could be, but his comments come as Russian officials have refused to say that Russia won’t use chemical or nuclear weapons in its invasion.

Russia has become more desperate as the war has gone on for more than a month, with Russian forces previously believing they would take over Ukraine within days. 

“Mr. Putin probably believed his own post-imperial fantasies, thinking that Ukrainians will welcome them with open arms,” Geoana said. “In fact, they got very fierce resistance. We are convinced that today, even with reinforcements that are still coming into Ukraine, Russia does not possess the forces and the capacity to occupy the whole of Ukraine.”

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the international community retaliated with harsh sanctions and private companies pulled their business out of Russia. 

Geoana said Russian President Vladimir Putin did not calculate “the bravery of the Ukrainian army” and the “unity of the political West” when deciding to start this war, according to the AP.

NATO estimates more than 40,000 Russian troops have been killed, injured or captured since the invasion began. 

“We see that for the time being, the Russian military planning is trying to reassess the situation — to try to compensate for the massive losses in people and material that they suffered in the first month of the war,” Geoana said.

NATO countries have been providing humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine, but have refrained from implementing a no-fly zone or giving fighter jets as the alliance sees those as moves that get the countries too directly involved in the fighting.

Tags Mircea Geoana NATO Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin

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