UN Chief Warns Nuclear War in ‘Realm of Possibility’ Over Ukraine

UN Chief Warns Nuclear War in ‘Realm of Possibility’ Over Ukraine
A rocket launches from missile system as part of a ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile test launched from the Plesetsk facility in northwestern Russia on Dec. 9, 2020. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
Jack Phillips

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that the prospect of a nuclear war is now “within the realm of possibility” as Russia continues its weekslong invasion of Ukraine.

Two weeks ago, the U.N. chief said at the time that the concept of a nuclear conflict is “inconceivable,” but he noted that the Kremlin’s decision to place its nuclear forces on high alert was a “chilling development.”

Days after Russian forces entered Ukraine on Feb. 24, President Vladimir Putin ordered his country’s nuclear deterrent forces to be placed on a heightened state of alert. Putin said it was due to economic sanctions imposed by Western countries on his country.

The United States military has not changed its nuclear posture following Putin’s order, a senior U.S. military official told reporters in early March. Russia and the United States are in possession of most of the world’s nuclear weapons.

Guterres also said Monday that he has been in “close contact” with several countries including Germany, India, Israel, France, Turkey, and China to discuss mediation efforts to end the conflict.

The U.N., he added, is going to allocate a further $40 million from its Central Emergency Response fund to ramp up humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

While several members of Congress have urged the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Ukraine, the United States and NATO have dismissed such proposals.

“We will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine. A direct confrontation between NATO and Russia is World War III something we must strive to prevent. But we already know [Russia’s] war against Ukraine will never be a victory,” said President Joe Biden on March 11 at the White House.

“We’re going to continue to stand together with our allies in Europe and send an unmistakable message. We will defend every single inch of NATO territory with the full might of the united and galvanized NATO,” Biden said after providing new sanctions against Russia.

Later on Monday, Russian forces let the first column of cars escape Ukraine’s besieged port of Mariupol but blocked an aid convoy trying to reach the city, Ukraine said, after 10 days of failed attempts to rescue civilians under relentless bombardment.

The southeastern port, totally surrounded by Russian troops since the first week of the invasion, has suffered the worst humanitarian impact of the war, with hundreds of thousands of people sheltering in basements without food, water, or medicine.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5
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