NATO chief warns Russia not to cross ‘very important line’

Oct 13, 2022, 12:54 AM | Updated: 12:09 pm
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of NATO de...

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. NATO Defence Ministers are meeting in Brussels Thursday as the military alliance presses ahead with plans to hold a nuclear exercise next week as concerns deepen over President Vladimir Putin's insistence that he will use any means necessary to defend Russian territory. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

(AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin would be crossing a “very important line” if he were to order the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned Thursday, as both the military alliance and Russia are due to hold nuclear exercises in the next few days.

NATO is holding its exercise, dubbed “Steadfast Noon,” next week. The long-planned maneuvers are conducted around the same time every year and run for about one week. They involve fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear warheads, but do not involve any live bombs.

Russia usually holds its own maneuvers around the same time, and NATO is expecting Moscow’s exercise of its nuclear forces sometime this month. Stoltenberg said NATO will “closely monitor” what Russia is up to.

Asked what NATO would do if Russia launched a nuclear attack, Stoltenberg said: “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.”

He added that “even any use of a smaller nuclear weapon will be a very serious thing, fundamentally changing the nature of the war in Ukraine, and of course that would have consequences.”

Stoltenberg’s remarks came after a meeting of NATO’s secretive Nuclear Planning Group, which was held among defense ministers in Brussels, as concerns deepen over Putin’s insistence that he will use any means necessary to defend Russian territory.

The meeting, which usually happens once or twice a year, comes amid high tension as some NATO allies, led by the U.S., supply Ukraine with advanced weapons and munitions to defend itself against Russian aerial attacks.

“Irresponsible and reckless rhetoric is dangerous,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said of Russian threats to potentially use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. However the U.S. has not seen the need to make any changes to its current military posture or response, Austin said.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also warned Putin not to cross that threshold. “Any nuclear attack against Ukraine will create an answer, not a nuclear answer but such a powerful answer from the military side that the Russian Army will be annihilated,” he said in a speech in Bruges, Belgium.

NATO is keeping a wary eye on Russia’s movements in its war with Ukraine, but has so far seen no change in its nuclear posture. Putin’s nuclear exercises though could make it more difficult for NATO to understand what Russia’s intentions might be, potentially increasing the risk of an accident.

“Russia will also be conducting its annual exercise, I think, the week after or just after the annual exercise,” U.K. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told reporters Wednesday. But “what we don’t want is to do things out of routine.”

“This is a routine exercise and it’s all about readiness,” Wallace said, just as “NATO’s meeting is all about making sure we are ready for anything. I mean, that is the job of this alliance — to make sure that the 30 partners together are ready for what is thrown at us. And we have to continue to work at that.”

Fourteen NATO member countries will be involved in “Steadfast Noon,” which was planned before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. The main part of the maneuvers will be held more than 1,000 kilometers (625 miles) from Russia.

NATO as an organization doesn’t possess any weapons. The nuclear weapons nominally linked to the alliance remain under the firm control of three member countries — the U.S., the U.K. and France. But France insists on maintaining its nuclear independence and doesn’t take part in Nuclear Planning Group meetings.

With the Russian army retreating in some places when faced with Ukrainian forces armed with Western weapons, Putin raised the stakes by annexing four Ukrainian regions and declaring a partial mobilization to buttress the crumbling front line.

As his war plans have gone awry, Putin has repeatedly signaled that he could resort to nuclear weapons to protect Russian gains. The threat is also aimed at deterring NATO nations from sending more sophisticated weapons to Ukraine.

In an interview with France 2 television, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that France would not respond with a nuclear strike. He also warned about the responsibilities of leaders when it comes to nuclear rhetoric and said he has spoken to Putin “several times.”

“We have a (nuclear) doctrine, which is clear,” Macron said. “The dissuasion is working. But then, the less we talk about it, the less we brandish the threat, the more credible we are.”

“Too many people are talking about it,” he said.

___

Sylvie Corbet in Paris and Tara Copp in Washington contributed to this report.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. NATO Defence Ministers are meeting in Brussels Thursday as the military alliance presses ahead with plans to hold a nuclear exercise next week as concerns deepen over President Vladimir Putin's insistence that he will use any means necessary to defend Russian territory. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
            
              NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. NATO Defence Ministers are meeting in Brussels Thursday as the military alliance presses ahead with plans to hold a nuclear exercise next week as concerns deepen over President Vladimir Putin's insistence that he will use any means necessary to defend Russian territory. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
            
              NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. NATO Defence Ministers are meeting in Brussels Thursday as the military alliance presses ahead with plans to hold a nuclear exercise next week as concerns deepen over President Vladimir Putin's insistence that he will use any means necessary to defend Russian territory. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
            
              NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. NATO Defence Ministers are meeting in Brussels Thursday as the military alliance presses ahead with plans to hold a nuclear exercise next week as concerns deepen over President Vladimir Putin's insistence that he will use any means necessary to defend Russian territory. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
            
              NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. NATO Defence Ministers are meeting in Brussels Thursday as the military alliance presses ahead with plans to hold a nuclear exercise next week as concerns deepen over President Vladimir Putin's insistence that he will use any means necessary to defend Russian territory. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
            
              The bow of the Soviet submarine K-3 'Leninsky Komsomol' is transported by a platform along the street from the pier to the museum where it will be assembled with the stern and installed as a museum, in the city of Kronstadt, outside St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. K-3 'Leninsky Komsomol' (NATO reporting project name "November"), the first nuclear submarine of the Soviet Union was built in 1957 and based in Soviet Navy's Northern Fleet in Murmansk region. In 1967, while transiting the Norwegian Sea, 39 crew members of K-3 died in bow compartments in the fire. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              The bow of the Soviet submarine K-3 'Leninsky Komsomol' is transported by a platform along the street from the pier to the museum where it will be assembled with the stern and installed as a museum, in the city of Kronstadt, outside St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. K-3 'Leninsky Komsomol' (NATO reporting project name "November"), the first nuclear submarine of the Soviet Union was built in 1957 and based in Soviet Navy's Northern Fleet in Murmansk region. In 1967, while transiting the Norwegian Sea, 39 crew members of K-3 died in bow compartments in the fire. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley attends a meeting of NATO defense ministers in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group format at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
            
              Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov gestures during a meeting of NATO defense ministers in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group format at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
            NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, center, speaks with U.S. Secretary for Defense Lloyd J. Austin III prior to a media conference during a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels Thursday, aiming to help bolster Ukraine's aerial defenses, after a widespread Russian assault across the country early this week. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys) NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, right, and U.S. Secretary for Defense Lloyd J. Austin III participate in a media conference during a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels Thursday, aiming to help bolster Ukraine's aerial defenses, after a widespread Russian assault across the country early this week. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys) U.S. Secretary for Defense Lloyd J. Austin III speaks during a media conference at a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels Thursday, aiming to help bolster Ukraine's aerial defenses, after a widespread Russian assault across the country early this week. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

AP

Associated Press

Today in History: November 27, Moscone and Milk fatally shot

Today in History Today is Sunday, Nov. 27, the 331st day of 2022. There are 34 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Nov. 27, 1978, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone (mah-SKOH’-nee) and City Supervisor Harvey Milk, a gay-rights activist, were shot to death inside City Hall by former supervisor Dan White. […]
23 hours ago
This undated photo provided on Nov. 27, 2022, by the North Korean government shows North Korean lea...
Associated Press

Kim’s daughter called ‘most beloved’ child in 2nd appearance

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s leader has taken his daughter to a meeting with missile scientists in her second public appearance, in which state media called her Kim Jong Un’s “most beloved” child, deepening outside debate over whether she is being primed as his successor. The daughter, believed to Kim’s second child named […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Shooting in Atlanta neighborhood kills 1 person, wounds 5

ATLANTA (AP) — A shooting in an Atlanta neighborhood Saturday evening killed one person and wounded five, police said. The Atlanta Police Department said several shots were fired during a dispute around 8 p.m. on the 17th Street bridge in Atlantic Station, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Police said the shooting occurred after a group of […]
23 hours ago
FILE - A lobster rears its claws after being caught off Spruce Head, Maine, Aug. 31, 2021. Environm...
Associated Press

Whole Foods decision to pull lobster divides enviros, pols

Environmental groups are at odds with politicians in New England in the wake of a decision by Whole Foods to stop selling Maine lobster.
23 hours ago
A crime scene is taped off at New Season Church in Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. Me...
Associated Press

Drive-by shooting injures 2 at funeral at Nashville church

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A drive-by shooting in Nashville on Saturday injured two people as they and others were walking out of church from the funeral of a woman who was fatally shot earlier this month, according to police. Metro Nashville Police Department spokesperson Don Aaron said the afternoon shooting occurred outside New Season Church, […]
23 hours ago
FILE - Zion National Park near Springdale, Utah, is pictured on Sept. 15, 2015. A woman died and a ...
Associated Press

Woman dies on hike in Utah’s Zion Park, husband rescued

A woman died and a man was rescued after they were caught in extreme cold weather while hiking in Utah's Zion National Park.
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
NATO chief warns Russia not to cross ‘very important line’