Friday December 09, 2022

France tells Putin Nato also has nuclear weapons

The French FM said Putin must also understand that the Atlantic alliance is a nuclear alliance. Putin said Russia would respond instantly if any external force tried to interfere with its actions

By Agencies & News Desk
February 26, 2022
France tells Putin Nato also has nuclear weapons

PARIS: The spectre of a mushroom cloud over Europe was conjured up when France's foreign minister said that Russian President Vladimir Putin, when making threats about using nuclear weapons, needs to understand that NATO, too, is a nuclear alliance. Amidst the threat of nuclear crisis, the silver lining emerged when Russia expressed readiness for talks with Ukraine following Chinese President Xi Jinping's phone call to President Putin.

Meanwhile, "horrific rocket strikes" shook Ukraine's capital Kyiv in the early hours of Friday, some hitting civilian areas as Russian forces are approaching the capital from the north and northeast, while the Russian President asked the Ukrainian military to “take power in your own hands”. While talking to l French television TF1, the Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was asked whether Putin's threat of "such consequences that you have never encountered in your history" was tantamount to threatening Russian use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict, Le Drian said it was indeed understood as such. "Yes, I think that Vladimir Putin must also understand that the Atlantic alliance is a nuclear alliance. That is all I will say about this."

Speaking from the Kremlin on Thursday morning as he launched the Russian military's invasion of Ukraine, Putin said Russia would respond instantly if any external force tried to interfere with its actions. "Whoever tries to hinder us, and even more so, to create threats to our country, to our people, should know that Russia's response will be immediate. And it will lead you to such consequences that you have never encountered in your history," the Russian president said. “As for military affairs, even after the dissolution of the USSR and losing a considerable part of its capabilities, today’s Russia remains one of the most powerful nuclear states,” Putin said, in his pre-invasion address. “Moreover, it has a certain advantage in several cutting-edge weapons. In this context, there should be no doubt for anyone that any potential aggressor will face defeat and ominous consequences should it directly attack our country.”

Asked why NATO member states are refusing to put soldiers on the ground in Ukraine, Le Drian said: "That is not what the Ukrainians are asking us". He said Ukraine is asking for humanitarian and financial help, as well as military equipment, which the West has provided and will continue to provide. He also accused Russian leader Vladimir Putin of wanting to wipe Ukraine "off the map" and that he fears for President Zelensky´s safety. Ukraine's president said his country had been "left alone" to defend itself from Russia's attacks. "But there is another — we are left alone in defense of our state. Who is ready to fight with us? Honestly — I do not see such. Who is ready to guarantee Ukraine's accession to NATO? Honestly, everyone is afraid."

Earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping held a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, exchanging views on the current Ukrainian situation. Xi stressed China supports Russia and Ukraine to solve the issue through negotiation. Noting the recent situation in eastern Ukraine has changed dramatically, causing great concern in the international community, Xi told Putin that China's position on the Ukraine issue is based on the merits of the matter concerned. The Chinese president urged all parties to completely abandon Cold War mindset, respect and attach importance to each other's legitimate security concerns and strive for a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism through dialogue and negotiation. The Russia president stressed that the United States and NATO have long ignored Russia's legitimate security concerns, repeatedly reneged on their commitments and kept pushing military deployments eastward, which challenged Russia's strategic bottom line. He also told Xi that the Russian side is prepared to send a delegation to Minsk for negotiations with the representatives of Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, Russia will return to negotiations with Ukraine as soon as the Ukrainian armed forces surrender and lay down their weapons. Russia's goal is to free Ukraine of "external management" carried out by the US and "Nazis," Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow, echoing President Vladimir Putin’s earlier statement saying the attack aimed at the “denazification” of Ukraine. In its response, Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters, Ukraine wants peace and is ready for talks with Russia, including on neutral status regarding the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin urged the Ukrainian army to overthrow its leadership whom he labelled as a “gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis who have lodged themselves in Kyiv and taken hostage the entire Ukrainian people.” He also repeated his claim that the Ukrainian leadership had been engaged in “genocide” in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.

The second day of the conflict began with pre-dawn blasts in Kyiv. The US has observed at least 200 total missile launches since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a senior US defense official told reporters. The missiles are primarily being launched from ground and air, the official added. There is also an “amphibious assault” underway on the Sea of Azov, located west of Mariupol in Ukraine, a senior US defense official told reporters. Russians are now “putting potentially thousands of naval infantry ashore there,” the official said. Russian forces advancing towards Kyiv are “meeting more resistance than they expected,” a senior US defense official told reporters.

Video taken by a webcam shows a massive Russian military convoy moving in Nova Kakhovka, Ukraine, at a Dnieper River crossing. Russian defense ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov claimed that Russian forces staged a "successful landing operation" to capture Hostomel airfield on the outskirts of Kyiv. "More than 200 Russian helicopters were involved in the operation," according to the statement. According to the latest British defense intelligence update, Russia has made “limited progress” in its attack on Ukraine. "Fighting continues in key locations. Russia has made limited progress so far today and Ukraine retains control of key cities. Ukranian MOD reports that Russian forces have arrived in the suburbs of Kyiv," the UK Ministry of Defence tweeted."

Refugees from Ukraine, including dozens of children, camp overnight at a train station in neighbouring Poland where reception centres are being hastily set up. The UN´s emergency relief coordinator called for "safe, unimpeded access" for aid workers to carry out humanitarian operations in Ukraine, after the Russian invasion. The UK has frozen European assets linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. EU officials are hammering Russia´s financial, energy and transport sectors, curb the ability of Russians to keep large amounts of cash in EU banks, and greatly expand the number of Russians on the EU´s list of individuals barred from entering the bloc´s 27 countries and freezing any EU assets.