The NATO chief Thursday will chair a meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group amid a rising debate over the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons, according to the alliance.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO will hold its long-planned exercise Steadfast Noon, a week-long annual exercise scheduled to be held next week over southern Europe, involving 14 NATO members and nuclear-capable aircraft.
“This is routine training, which happens every year to keep our deterrent safe, secure and effective.” Stoltenberg told the news conference. “And this is a long time planned exercise, actually planned before the invasion of Ukraine.”
Stoltenberg said it would be a “very long signal” if they canceled a routing, planned exercise because of the war in Ukraine.
“That would be absolutely the wrong signal to send. And we need to understand that NATO’s firm, predictable behavior, our military strength, is the best way to prevent escalation,” he noted.
Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats are “dangerous and irresponsible,” adding that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
According to Stoltenberg, NATO has not detected any changes in Russia’s posture but he reassured that the military alliance remains vigilant.
NATO headquarters Wednesday will host a meeting of defense ministers who will also discuss Russia’s war on Ukraine.