In one of its most dire warnings to date, NATO’s Secretary General has said the Ukraine war could spin out of contol and escalate into a full-blown conflict between the military alliance and Vladimir Putin’s Russia – raising fears of a potential Third World War. Asked about his biggest fear this winter, Jens Stoltenberg told the Norwegian broadcaster NRK: “I fear that the war in Ukraine will get out of control, and spread into a major war between Nato and Russia.”
While he said he was confident that such a situation would be avoided, Mr Stoltenberg, a former Prime Minister of Norway, said in the interview that “there is no doubt that a full-fledged war is a possibility,” adding that it was important to avoid a conflict “that involves more countries in Europe and becomes a full-fledged war in Europe.”
“I understand everyone who is tired of supporting Ukraine. I understand everyone who thinks that food prices and the electricity bills are far too high.
“But we have to pay a much higher price if our freedom and peace are threatened through Putin winning in Ukraine.”
Vladimir Putin upped the ante on Friday, warning that any nation daring to attack Russia with nuclear weapons would be wiped off the face of the earth.
Waving his own military asenal, the Russian leader said his country’s advanced hypersonic weapons would ensure Russia would respond forcefully to any threat.
The escalating rhetoric comes days after Jens Stoltenberg stressed the importance of continued NATO support to Ukraine as it faces Russia’s war of aggression.
In an address to the Financial Times’ Global Boardroom event via video link, he said: “Russia is trying to freeze the conflict” in order to “regroup and launch a bigger offensive later on because Ukraine now has the momentum.”
The NATO chief repeated that Ukraine would decide on the timing and contents of any negotiation with Russia: “The more we want a peaceful solution, the more urgent it is that we provide military support to Ukraine.”
READ MORE: NATO issues fresh warning over ‘real possibility’ of war with Russia
The Kremlin has repeatedly accused NATO allies of effectively joining the conflict by arming Ukraine, training its troops, and feeding military intelligence to attack Russian forces. In a bid to intimidate the West, Putin annexed four Ukrainian regions into Russia, claiming the territories are now part of Russia.
In remarks that mirrored the escalating hostilities between Russia and the West, President Vladimir Putin suggested Moscow might think about using what he described as the U.S. concept of a preemptive strike.
He said: “Speaking about a disarming strike, maybe it’s worth thinking about adopting the ideas developed by our U.S. counterparts, their ideas of ensuring their security.”
Before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin expressed worry about American attempts to create the so-called Prompt Global Strike capability, which aims to hit an adversary’s strategic targets with precision-guided conventional weapons anywhere in the world within an hour.
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