Canada and its allies must be prepared for “all scenarios” when it comes to whether Russia could deploy nuclear weapons amid its “failure” in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly says.
Joly appeared before the Senate foreign affairs committee on Thursday afternoon to answer questions about the federal government’s response to Russia’s attacks on Ukraine, which began on February 24.
Since then, Russian officials have issued varying degrees of nuclear threats, and the committee asked Joly how seriously Canadians should take such threats of possible nuclear conflict.
“I think we have to be prepared for all scenarios and at the same time I think it will not be the last time that Russia makes threats in light of the fact that the Ukrainian forces are resisting much more than they thought,” Joly said. . he answered her.
“Clearly, their invasion is a failure and will remain a failure, and we will not stop our efforts until Ukraine wins. When I want to say that Ukraine wins, what I mean is that Russian forces leave Ukraine,” he added.
“That’s why we need to make sure we work with allies on this and prepare for different types of scenarios.”
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Russia has withdrawn in recent weeks after failing to conquer key areas of Ukraine, including the capital city of kyiv.
But the pullout is seeing a shift in focus to the eastern Donbas region and a regrouping of Russian forces ahead of what is expected to be a major military push in the coming days and weeks.
That early teaser comes as May 9 approaches, an important date celebrated as “Victory Day” in Russia to commemorate the long-standing Soviet role in defeating the Nazis during World War II.
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Joly pointed to the date during the committee as a factor in the rapid increase in military weaponry that NATO allies have sent or promised to Ukraine, including Howitzer missiles and armored vehicles from Canada over the past week.
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this week stepped up his rhetoric against Western countries that support Ukraine, suggesting that military support amounts to a “proxy war.”
“The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate him,” Reuters quoted Lavrov as saying in a transcript of his remarks released by Russia. “NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war.”
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Reuters reported that Lavrov had been asked on state television about the prospect of a Third World War and whether the current situation was comparable to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis that nearly sparked a nuclear war.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby denounced what he called Lavrov’s “escalated rhetoric.”
“It’s obviously pointless, it’s not constructive, and it’s certainly not indicative of what a responsible (world power) should be doing in the public sphere,” Kirby said. “A nuclear war cannot be won and should not be fought. There is no reason for the current conflict in Ukraine to reach that level.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned earlier this month in an interview with CNN that the world should prepare for Russia to use nuclear weapons.
That report also quoted CIA Director Bill Burns as saying: “Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks they have faced militarily thus far, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by Russia. a potential resource for tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons.”
– with Reuters files
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