Putin will not provoke NATO into “reckless” nuclear rhetoric, says head

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has reportedly vowed that the defensive alliance will not engage in “the same kind of reckless and dangerous nuclear rhetoric” as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Stoltenberg’s comments were collated by Reuters editor-in-chief Alessandra Galloni at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday. The NATO chief described Putin’s apparent nuclear threat in a televised address on Wednesday as “dangerous and reckless rhetoric,” according to Reuters.

“The only way to end this war is to prove that President Putin will not win on the battlefield. When he realizes that, he should sit down and negotiate a reasonable agreement with Ukraine,” the news agency quoted him as saying.

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Putin announced on Wednesday that a partial mobilization will take place in Russia to send additional soldiers to fight in Ukraine, where counter-offensives in the southern region of Kherson and the eastern region of Kharkov have allegedly chopped off Russian soldiers, equipment and Russian-occupied territory. The Russian president said the order only applies to Russian citizens currently on the reserves and those who have served in the military with “certain military specialties and relevant experience”.

He also stated that the mobilization was necessary to “protect the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Russia”.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference during the NATO summit on June 29 in Madrid. Stoltenberg has reportedly vowed that the defensive alliance will not “engage in the same kind of reckless and dangerous nuclear rhetoric” as Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

In the same address, Putin said he was ready to respond to what he claimed was “nuclear blackmail” of the West using his country’s own weapons, implying that nuclear strikes could be possible.

He accused senior representatives of NATO countries of discussing the possible use of “weapons of mass destruction – nuclear weapons – against Russia.”

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While Putin’s ongoing invasion has not yet spread beyond Ukraine’s borders, fears have grown that the conflict could spark a bigger war between Russia and NATO. Guests and hosts on Russian state television have repeatedly suggested and even encouraged Russian nuclear attacks on NATO countries.

A Russian television host said Russia should have launched a nuclear missile at the UK earlier this week during Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. Another Russian television personality warned in June that continued NATO support for Ukraine during the war would lead to a “mass nuclear attack” that only “mutants” would survive.

In a speech at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden criticized Russia for making “irresponsible nuclear threats to use nuclear weapons” and stressed that nuclear war “cannot be won and should never be fought”.

News week approached the Kremlin and NATO for comment.

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