“Raising the alert level of Russian nuclear forces is a bone-chilling development,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Monday, noting that the potential for nuclear war still exists as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine.
“The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility,” Guterres added.
Given the threat of nuclear war, as well as the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, Guterres called for a diplomatic solution.
“It’s time to stop the horror unleashed on the people of Ukraine and get on the path of diplomacy and peace,” Guterres said. “The appeals for peace must be heard. This tragedy must stop.”
.@UN Secretary-General @antonioguterres: "Raising the alert of Russian nuclear forces is a bone-chilling development. The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility." pic.twitter.com/pwFhTPH11f
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 14, 2022
In late February, Russian President Vladimir Putin raised his nuclear deterrent forces to an elevated alert status, citing “aggressive statements” from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and increased sanctions against his regime.
In the early days of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, Putin lamented, “Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country.”
As Fox News reported:
Putin ordered the Russian defense minister and the chief of the military’s General Staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty.” The move signals tensions could boil over into a nuclear war.
“He is right now threatening a nuclear escalation,” said former DIA intelligence officer Rebekah Koffler. “This a veiled threat – or maybe such a veiled threat – he just met with his chief of general staff and minister of defense. He is escalating the conflict into the nuclear domain in order to de-escalate – that is topple Kyiv’s regime quickly.”
As The Daily Wire’s Virginia Kruta reported, Putin’s move to raise the alert level prompted his military to prepare nuclear weapons for a potential launch, marking the second time in just a few days that the Russian President issued a veiled or direct threat of nuclear escalation. As the invasion began, Putin warned that “consequences you have never seen” would be visited upon any nation daring to interfere with Russia’s actions.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Linda Thomas Greenfield responded to Russia’s latest move during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” saying “It means that President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable and we have to continue to stem his actions in the strongest possible way.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gave a concurrent statement on CNN, saying, “This is dangerous rhetoric. This is behavior which is irresponsible. That’s the reason why we both provide support to Ukraine but also why we over the last weeks and months have significantly increased the presence of NATO in the eastern part of the alliance.”