NATO Prepares for Nuclear Exercises Amid Concerns About Russia Threat

NATO Prepares for Nuclear Exercises Amid Concerns About Russia Threat
NATO Prepares for Nuclear Exercises Amid Concerns About Russia Threat

International Military - NATO has confirmed that it is sticking to plans for its annual nuclear drills. The drills take place amid the escalating Russia-Ukraine conflict, fueling fears of a direct and catastrophic confrontation between Moscow and the Western military bloc. "This is a routine exercise, which takes place every year, to keep our deterrents safe, secure and effective," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters, as quoted by Russia Today, Wednesday (12/10/2022).

The exercise, known as Steadfast Noon, will be held next week. It usually unites dozens of aircraft from member states and practices nuclear strike missions. Jets usually do not carry live warheads. Asked whether the 30 NATO members had discussed the potential for the Steadfast Noon exercise to cause a miscalculation amid rising tensions with Russia, Stoltenberg dismissed those concerns.

“Now is the right time to be firm and make it clear that NATO is there to protect and defend all allies. And these are drills that have been planned for a long time, actually planned before the invasion of Ukraine," he said.

Stoltenberg added that the drills would send "a very wrong signal" if NATO canceled the nuclear drills because of the Ukraine crisis. “We need to understand that NATO's predictable behavior by our military forces is the best way to prevent escalation. We are there to maintain peace, to prevent escalation and prevent any attack against NATO allied countries," he said.

"So if we now create excuses for misunderstandings, miscalculations in Moscow about our willingness to protect and defend all Allies, we will increase the risk of escalation, and that is the last thing we will do."

Stoltenberg said NATO's readiness to defend itself against any attack deters the nuclear threat. "This was important before the invasion of Ukraine, became even more important after, at least given the nuclear rhetoric from President Putin and from Russia," he added.

Stoltenberg said NATO is closely monitoring Russia's nuclear forces and has not seen any change in their posture. He added that NATO ministers would make a decision on Wednesday to increase the stockpile of weapons. Media reports in recent weeks have indicated that members of the bloc are struggling to get arms fast enough as aid to Ukraine is depleting their supplies. The German Army, for example, has enough ammunition for just a day or two of war, Business Insider reported on Saturday.

US President Joe Biden warned last week that Russia and the West faced a greater "Armageddon" nuclear threat than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis 40 years ago. President Vladimir Putin has vowed that Russia will use "all available means" to defend its people and territory, a statement interpreted by Washington and its NATO allies as a threat to deploy nuclear weapons.

Last week, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky demanded that NATO carry out deterrence strikes on Russia to prevent the use of nuclear weapons. After Moscow accused him of trying to instigate a third world war, Zelensky denied the statement, claiming that it was mistranslated and he really meant to say deterrence sanctions, not "preventive attacks."

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