The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is set to fly nuclear-capable planes as part of a ‘deterrence’ exercise next week as Russian nuclear concerns grow.
The annual exercise, called “Steadfast Noon”, was planned before Russian President Vladimir Putin launched Ukraine’s “special military operation” in February and will take place mostly more than 1,000 km from Russia, the report said. Associated Press. It will involve 14 NATO members, as well as nuclear-capable aircraft, conventional jets, surveillance and refueling aircraft.
However, it will not involve actual nuclear bombs, the AP reported.
The exercise comes as fears continue to grow that Putin could turn to nuclear weapons if his military faces defeat in Ukraine, which has made significant progress since September retaking thousands of square kilometers of formerly occupied territory. in the south and east of the country.
Putin promised that Russia would “use all means at its disposal” to “protect Russia and our people” during a national address last month. Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden warned of a nuclear “Armageddon” last week, one of his administration’s most direct acknowledgments of the Russian nuclear threat.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discussed the timing of the exercise in remarks to reporters on Tuesday.
“It would send a very bad signal if we suddenly canceled a long-planned routine exercise because of the war in Ukraine. That would be absolutely the wrong signal to send,” he said.
He described NATO military force as “the best way to prevent escalation”. Of the 30 member states of NATO, only three – the United States, the United Kingdom and France – possess nuclear weapons capable of being deployed in the event of nuclear war.
“We are here to preserve peace, to prevent escalation and to prevent any attacks on NATO allies. So if we were to now create the basis for any misunderstanding, miscalculation in Moscow about our willingness to protect and to defend all Allies, we would increase the risk of escalation and that is the last thing we will do,” Stoltenberg said.
Stoltenberg said NATO was monitoring Putin’s nuclear weapons and had seen no change in their “posture”.
Russia has struggled to achieve substantial goals in Ukraine after more than seven months of fighting. Experts fear Putin will turn to nuclear weapons if he feels Russia faces defeat. Moscow launched non-nuclear strikes this week against several Ukrainian cities, killing at least 11 people.
“The citizens of Russia can be assured that the territorial integrity of our homeland, our independence and our freedom will be defended – I repeat – by all the systems at our disposal,” Putin said last month. “Those who use nuclear blackmail against us must know that the wind rose can turn around.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that the West was spreading false claims about Russia’s intent and would only deploy nuclear weapons if Russia faced imminent destruction, according to the report. ‘AP.
Newsweek contacted the White House for comment.