France’s foreign minister said Russian President Vladimir Putin should understand that NATO also has nuclear weapons when making threats to deploy his arsenal.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was speaking with French television network TF1Info when he was asked if Putin’s remarks were “tantamount to threatening Russian use of nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict,” Reuters reported.
He said he believed so.
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“Yes, I think that Vladimir Putin must also understand that the Atlantic alliance is a nuclear alliance,” he answered during the Thursday TV appearance. “That is all I will say about this.”
Hours earlier, Putin spoke from the Kremlin in Moscow where he said Russia would respond with force should other nations try and interfere with its military operations in Ukraine.
“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 said.
Ukraine came under siege Thursday as Russia launched multiple airstrikes, prompting many to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere.
Le Drian said Ukraine has not asked NATO-member states to deploy military forces on the ground but are requesting humanitarian aid and financial assistance. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and leaders there have called for the alliance to cut diplomatic ties with Moscow.
The United States has imposed sanctions on Russia but has not pledged to respond with a military presence.
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“Strangling Russia economically and financially will in the long run be stronger than any intervention,” the foreign minister said.