Paris: Russia-Ukraine conflict has entered a dangerous phase after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian bragged about NATO’s nuclear weapons to browbeat Moscow.
Le Drian said Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to understand that NATO, too, is a nuclear alliance.
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, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 137 people including 10 military officers have been killed and 316 others injured after Russia declared war.
The dead included all border guards on the Zmiinyi Island in the Odesa region, which was taken over by Russians. Zelenskyy said Kyiv was ‘left alone’ to fight Moscow.
Ukraine said it lost control of the Chernobyl nuclear site, the site of the 1986 disaster.
A senior official wrote on Facebook that the staff at the Chernobyl plant had been “taken hostage” when Russian troops seized the facility, a move the US termed “incredibly alarming and greatly concerning”.
A senior US defense official said Russia may seize Kyiv, the capital, and other key cities to install a more friendly government.
US and its allies said they will block the assets of four large Russian banks, impose export controls, and sanction oligarchs. NATO’s eastern flank, especially the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, all have received the first batches of US military troops and equipment.
China, meanwhile, continues its support of the Kremlin with its customs agency approving imports of wheat from all regions of Russia, a move that could help to reduce the impact of possible Western sanctions.