EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell issued a threat against Russia on Thursday, warning that Western powers would “annihilate” the Russian army if Moscow uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
“Putin is saying he is not bluffing. Well, he cannot afford bluffing, and it has to be clear that the people supporting Ukraine and the European Union and the Member States, and the United States and NATO are not bluffing neither,” Borrel said at a European Diplomatic Academy event in Bruges, Belgium.
“Any nuclear attack against Ukraine will create an answer, not a nuclear answer but such a powerful answer from the military side that the Russian Army will be annihilated,” he added.
The warning from Borrel came as NATO defense ministers held the second day of talks in Brussels, which included a closed-door meeting of the alliance’s nuclear planning group, the body that sets and reviews NATO’s nuclear policies.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also warned Russia against using nuclear weapons, saying it would have “severe consequences.” But he said the chances of NATO using a nuclear weapon are “extremely remote.”
When announcing a partial mobilization last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia could use all of the weapons at its disposal to defend its “territorial integrity.”
Russian officials insist Putin’s comments were nothing new and fell within Russia’s long-established military doctrine, which says nuclear weapons could be used if the country faces an “existential threat.” But the warning was significant since Russia has extended its territory by annexing areas in Ukraine under its control, and other Russian officials have explicitly said they could defend the new territories with nuclear weapons.