NATO chief fears Ukraine war could become a wider conflict

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The pinnacle of NATO expressed fear that the combating in Ukraine may spin uncontrolled and turn out to be a struggle between Russia and NATO, based on an interview launched Friday.

“If issues go fallacious, they’ll go horribly fallacious,” NATO Secretary-Basic Jens Stoltenberg mentioned in remarks to Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

“It’s a horrible struggle in Ukraine. It’s also a struggle that may turn out to be a full-fledged struggle that spreads into a significant struggle between NATO and Russia,” he mentioned. “We’re engaged on that on daily basis to keep away from that.”

Stoltenberg, a former prime minister of Norway, mentioned within the interview that “there isn’t any doubt {that a} full-fledged struggle is a chance,” including that it was vital to keep away from a battle “that entails extra nations in Europe and turns into a full-fledged struggle in Europe.”

The Kremlin has repeatedly accused NATO allies of successfully changing into a celebration to the battle by offering Ukraine with weapons, coaching its troops and feeding navy intelligence to assault Russian forces.

In feedback that mirrored hovering tensions between Russia and the West, President Vladimir Putin steered Moscow would possibly consider using what he described because the U.S. idea of a preemptive strike.

“Talking a couple of disarming strike, perhaps it’s price occupied with adopting the concepts developed by our U.S. counterparts, their concepts of making certain their safety,” he mentioned.

Lengthy earlier than the Ukraine struggle, the Kremlin expressed concern about U.S. efforts to develop the so-called Immediate International Strike functionality that envisions hitting an adversary’s strategic targets with precision-guided standard weapons anyplace on the planet inside one hour.

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Putin famous that such a strike may knock out command amenities.

“We’re simply occupied with it, they weren’t shy to brazenly discuss it through the previous years,” he mentioned, claiming that Moscow’s precision-guided cruise missiles outperform comparable U.S. weapons and Russia has hypersonic weapons that the U.S. hasn’t deployed.

Putin additionally mentioned he was dissatisfied with former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s latest feedback {that a} 2015 peace deal for jap Ukraine negotiated by France and Germany had purchased time for Ukraine to organize for the 2022 struggle.

“I assumed that different members of the method have been honest with us, however it turned out that they have been dishonest us,” he mentioned. “It turned out that they wished to pump Ukraine with weapons and put together for hostilities.”

Putin argued that Merkel’s assertion confirmed that Russia was proper in launching what he calls the “particular navy operation” in Ukraine. “Maybe we should always have began it earlier,” he mentioned.

He additionally mentioned her feedback additional eroded Russia’s belief within the West, complicating any doable peace talks.

“Ultimately we should negotiate an settlement,” he mentioned. “However after such statements there is a matter of belief. Belief is near zero. I repeatedly have mentioned that we’re prepared for an settlement, however it makes us suppose, take into consideration whom we’re coping with.”

In separate feedback through video hyperlink to protection and safety chiefs of a number of ex-Soviet nations, Putin once more accused the West of utilizing Ukraine as a software towards his nation.

“For a few years, the West shamelessly exploited and pumped out its assets, inspired genocide and terror within the Donbas and successfully turned the nation right into a colony,” he mentioned. “Now it’s cynically utilizing the Ukrainian folks as cannon fodder, as a ram towards Russia by persevering with to produce Ukraine with weapons and ammunition, sending mercenaries and pushing it to a suicidal observe.”

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Ukrainians say they’re combating for freedom towards an undesirable invader and aggressor.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by cellphone Friday and each “agreed on the significance of preempting Russia’s insincere requires a ceasefire,” Sunak’s workplace mentioned. “The prime minister added that the Kremlin wanted to withdraw its forces earlier than any settlement may very well be thought-about.”

Heavy combating continued Friday in jap and southern Ukraine, principally in areas that Russia illegally annexed in September.

Ukraine’s presidential workplace mentioned 5 civilians have been killed and one other 13 have been wounded by Russian shelling within the final 24 hours.

Donetsk regional Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko mentioned the Russians have been urgent an offensive on Bakhmut with day by day assaults, regardless of taking heavy casualties.

“You possibly can greatest describe these assaults as cannon fodder,” Kyrylenko mentioned in televised remarks. “They’re principally counting on infantry and fewer on armor, they usually can’t advance.”

In neighboring Luhansk in jap Ukraine, regional Gov. Serhiy Haidai mentioned the Ukrainian navy was pushing its counteroffensive towards Kreminna and Svatove.

He voiced hope Ukraine can reclaim management of Kreminna by yr’s finish, after which by the tip of winter reclaim areas within the area that have been captured by Russia for the reason that struggle started.

Within the south, Kherson regional Gov. Yaroslav Yanyshevych mentioned eight civilians have been wounded by Russian shelling within the final 24 hours, and within the metropolis of Kherson that Ukraine retook final month, a kids’s hospital and a morgue have been broken.

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Within the neighboring Zaporizhzhia area, Russian forces shelled Nikopol and Chervonohryhorivka, that are throughout the Dnieper River from the Russia-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear energy plant.

Zaporizhzhia Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko mentioned Russian shelling broken residential buildings and energy strains.

Within the Kharkiv area of northeastern Ukraine, Gov. Oleh Syniehubov mentioned three civilians have been wounded by Russian shelling, with one later dying.


Related Press author Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Jill Lawless in London contributed.


Observe AP’s protection of the struggle in Ukraine at