Putin could order a ‘nuclear attack to strike terror among Ukrainians and their allies’ after the country’s northeast collapses, ex-NATO chief warns
- Rose Gottemoeller, ex-NATO deputy chief, warned that Russia could bomb Ukraine
- Kremlin could ‘retaliate in unpredictable ways’ after latest military disaster
- This could include the nuclear destruction of the Black Sea or the Ukrainian base as a show of power
- The aim would be to terrify Ukraine into capitulating, Ms Gottemoeller added
Vladimir Putin could resort to using nuclear weapons in Ukraine to try to terrify Kyiv into capitulating, a former NATO leader has warned.
Rose Gottemoeller, who served as the alliance’s deputy general secretary from 2016 to 2019, said the Russians could “retaliate in truly unpredictable ways” after Ukraine inflicted a humiliating rout on their forces in the north.
Ms Gottemoeller said those strikes could include firing a nuclear weapon into the Black Sea or a Ukrainian military base as a show of power.
“The goal would be to make the Ukrainians capitulate, in their terror,” she added.
Russia could launch nukes at Ukraine in an attempt to force Kyiv to surrender, ex-NATO chief has warned
Ms Gottemoeller said Russia is unlikely to use long-range nuclear weapons against the United States, but hopes to dissuade Ukraine’s Western allies from supporting its war effort.
Asked on the BBC’s Today program how the West should react, she added: “I insist that if [the Russians] take this path, we should not respond in a nuclear way.
‘[We] should draw upon our other considerable capabilities, whether cyber or conventional response [weapons] answer.’
Ukraine braces for nuclear disaster as its counteroffensive against Russia gathers pace
She also stressed that Western military aid and training to Ukraine should continue, but diplomatic channels should remain open in the Kremlin.
Asked what the West should say to the Russian leader, she replied: “We have done a great job of sending a clear message to Moscow: no impunity.
“We know what you’re doing, you’re not going to get away with it”
“If there is a move towards weapons of mass destruction, and I haven’t seen any indication so far that there is, but if there is, we have to let it be known and tell the Russians: “No impunity here”.
Ms Gottemoeller was speaking after Ukraine launched a surprise counterattack east of the city of Kharkiv which led to a rout of Russian forces.
Within a few days of fighting and in the face of token resistance, Ukrainian troops managed to drive Russia out of the entire Kharkiv region.
Kyiv’s men now control vital supply lines running through the eastern Donbass region and seek to gain the advantage by attacking Russian positions there.
A second counterattack towards the city of Kherson also continued to progress, with some Russian troops negotiating their surrender after running out of ammunition.
Rose Gottemoeller says Russia could ‘retaliate in really unpredictable ways’ after its latest humiliation in eastern Ukraine, including using nuclear weapons
Oleksiy Arestovich, adviser to President Zelensky, said the army had captured so many Russians in recent days that it lacked space to house them.
Military intelligence spokesman Andrey Yusov added that a “significant” number of Russian officers were among them.
Zelensky, speaking in a late-night speech, said Ukrainian armies had captured a total of 2,300 square miles in the east and south since early September.
It’s about four times the size of Greater London, with Zelensky calling on Western allies to provide more weapons to help consolidate gains.
Ukraine and the West must “strengthen cooperation to defeat Russian terrorism”, he said, while calling specifically for air defense systems to help protect civilian areas that Putin’s commanders have started to be targeted as “revenge”.
Zelensky described the strikes as “a sign of the desperation of those who invented this war.”
He added: “This is how they react to the defeat of Russian troops in the Kharkiv region. They can’t do anything to our heroes on the battlefield and that’s why Russia directs its dastardly strikes against civilian infrastructure.