France will NOT respond with a nuke if Russia nukes Ukraine, Macron says
France would not respond with a nuclear weapon even if Russia uses one against Ukraine, Emmanuel Macron said last night.
Mr Macron said French nuclear doctrine only allows the weapons to be used in the case of a direct threat to the country or its ‘fundamental interests’.
‘They are defined clearly and wouldn’t be directly affected at all if, for example, there was a ballistic nuclear attack in Ukraine [or] in the region’, the French President told national TV.
He spoke amid increased atomic sabre-rattling around Ukraine with NATO and Russia both due to carry out nuclear drills in the coming days.
As tensions ramp up, nearby countries are preparing for the fallout as people in Finland rushed to buy iodine pills which help prevent some radiation effects.
France would not use a nuclear weapon against Russia if it used one of its own atomic weapons against Ukraine, the French President has said (File image: Russian nuclear missile)
Emmanuel Macron (right) said French nuclear doctrine only allows the weapons to be used against threats to his country or its ‘fundamental interests’, as he urged Vladimir Putin (left) to negotiate
Authorities in Helsinki urged everyone to buy at least one dose, which stop radioactive iodine building up in the thyroid gland which can cause cancer.
That sparked a run on the tablets, with pharmacies across the country saying they had run out and drug wholesalers also reporting their stockpiles were empty.
Vladimir Putin threatened Ukraine and its allies with nuclear weapons a fortnight ago as he annexed four occupied regions, raising fears he will resort to the nuclear option as his war effort fails.
However, observers say he has not yet moved to use them – and instead chose to hit Ukraine with a massive barrage of conventional missiles this week.
Macron, speaking as NATO defence ministers were set to gather to discuss military aid to Ukraine, said France is considering sending air defence units capable of taking down Russian missiles, as well as more artillery.
Mr Macron also called on Putin to resume peace negotiations with Kyiv.
‘Today, first of all, Vladimir Putin must stop this war, respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and come back to the table for talks,’ Mr Macron told broadcaster France 2.
As well as planning conventional weapons deliveries to Ukraine, NATO’s secretive Nuclear Planning Group met today to discuss holding a nuclear test next week.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who took part in the meeting, said the ‘routine’ exercise was designed to test the ‘readiness’ of NATO’s atomic stockpile.
However, he said the situation was complicated by the fact that Russia is planning to hold its own drill soon and there is a danger that signals from either side could be misinterpreted and lead to an unintentional confrontation.
‘Russia will also be conducting its annual exercise, I think, the week after or just after the annual exercise,’ MR Wallace told reporters.
‘What we don’t want is to do things out of routine.’
Mr Macron says on French TV last night that he has spoken to Putin ‘several times’ about the risks of ramping up the nuclear rhetoric around Ukraine
Ahead of the meeting, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said NATO is committed to defending ‘every each’ of allied soil.
NATO’s exercise, dubbed Steadfast Noon, is held around the same time every year and runs for about a week.
It involves fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear warheads testing their ability to deliver them but doesn’t involve any live bombs.
Conventional jets and surveillance and refueling aircraft also routinely take part.
Fourteen NATO member countries will be involved in the exercise, which was planned before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
The main part of the maneuvers will be held more than 625 miles from Russia.
NATO as an organization doesn’t possess any weapons. The nuclear arsenal nominally linked to the alliance remains under the firm control of three member countries – the US, the UK and France.
But France insists on maintaining its nuclear independence and doesn’t take part in Nuclear Planning Group meetings.
As his war plans have gone awry, Putin has repeatedly signaled that he could resort to nuclear weapons to protect the Russian gains.
The threat is also aimed at deterring NATO nations from sending more sophisticated weapons to Ukraine.
In an interview with France 2 television last night, Mr Macron warned about the responsibilities of leaders when it comes to nuclear rhetoric. He said he has spoken to Putin ‘several times.’
NATO defence ministers meet in Brussels today as they discuss military aid to Ukraine, ahead of a meeting to plan an upcoming nuclear exercise
‘We have a [nuclear] doctrine which is clear,’ the president said. ‘The dissuasion is working.
‘But then, the less we talk about it, the less we brandish the threat, the more credible we are. Too many people are talking about it.’
Earlier this week, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg described Putin’s remarks as ‘dangerous and reckless,’ and underlined that the allies ‘have also conveyed clearly to Russia that it will have severe consequences if they use nuclear weapons in any way.’
Mr Stoltenberg warned that it ‘would be absolutely the wrong signal to send’ if the world’s biggest security organisation were to cancel the maneuvers.
‘NATO’s firm, predictable behaviour, our military strength, is the best way to prevent escalation,’ he said.
‘If we now created the grounds for any misunderstandings, miscalculations in Moscow about our willingness to protect and defend all allies, we would increase the risk of escalation.’