NATO also has nuclear weapons: French minister responds to Putin's threattext_fields
Paris: French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian spoke out on Thursday to remind Russia that the "Atlantic alliance" of NATO countries also had nuclear weapons, in response to Vladimir Putin's perceived threat to use his own nuclear arsenal as war continues over the embattled country of Ukraine.
Asked whether Putin's threat of "such consequences that you have never encountered in your history" was tantamount to threatening to use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict, Le Drian said it was 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," Le Drian said on French television TF1.
Earlier this month, Vladimir Putin had overseen a large-scale military exercise involving nuclear arsenal.
"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 had said, even as Russian troops continued to shell parts of Ukraine.
Western leaders on Thursday threatened unprecedented economic sanctions against Russia, but none have argued for a NATO-led military intervention to defend Ukraine.
"France condemns in the strongest terms the military invasion of Ukraine launched by Russia overnight. It also condemns the use of Belarusian territory authorized by the Lukashenko regime to carry out this aggression against a sovereign country. This choice of war is a brutal violation of international law. It will bring immediate, massive consequences and a severe cost," Le Drian's statement on the issue reads.
In his interview to TF1 Le Drian said Ukraine was requesting mainly military supplies and humanitarian aid, and suggesting that sanctions may be a much better way of dealing with Russia, to choke it economically. A list of needs was studied by NATO in order to get these materials to Ukraine, he added.
When asked why NATO member states - which in past decades have intervened militarily in non-NATO countries such as Afghanistan, Libya and former Yugoslavia - are refusing to put soldiers on the ground in Ukraine, Le Drian said: "That is not what the Ukrainians are asking us".
Russia's military attack was announced early on Thursday by President Vladimir Putin, and on the first day, more than 130 people including civilians were killed, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who said his country was "left alone" to fend off Russian attacks.