A Russian nuclear strike would change the course of the conflict in Ukraine and almost certainly trigger a “physical response” from Kyiv’s allies, and possibly from NATO, a high-ranking representative from the alliance told Reuters on condition of anonymity, BTA reported.
— Reuters (@Reuters) October 12, 2022
Any use of nuclear weapons by Moscow would have “unpredictable consequences for Russia,”
he added shortly before a closed-door meeting of NATO’s nuclear planning group.
According to him, Moscow uses nuclear rhetoric mainly to deter NATO and some other countries from entering the conflict directly.
In the course of the conflict, now eight months old, Russia has suffered heavy losses in manpower and military equipment, and in the last month has gone into retreat on several fronts.
Against this backdrop, President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation
of four Ukrainian territories that are partly under Russian control and threatened to defend them with nuclear weapons.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said last month that the US had made it clear to Moscow that
there would be “catastrophic consequences” if he used nuclear weapons in Ukraine. However, he did not make public anything about exactly what Washington’s response would be.
Yesterday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told journalists on the sidelines of the NATO meeting in Brussels,
that the US is watching for any indication of a worrisome change in Moscow’s nuclear posture that would suggest Putin is preparing for a nuclear attack.
“We haven’t seen any signs at this point that would lead us to think that,” Austin said.
Meanwhile, NATO said it will hold its annual nuclear preparedness exercise called “Steadfast Noon” next week.
Canceling the exercises because of the war in Ukraine would send “a very wrong signal”, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.
“These are exercises that ensure our nuclear deterrence remains safe, secure, and effective,” he said, adding that military force is the best way to prevent any escalation of tensions.