World War Three fears as NATO chief talks possibility of ‘major war’ with Russia

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has spoken of his fear that the war in Ukraine will “get out of control, and spread into a major war between Nato and Russia".

Stoltenberg, who has been NATO’s most senior civilian official since October 2014, was asked during an interview with Norwegian broadcaster NRK about his biggest fear.

He said he feared there was "no doubt" the war could escalate into a "major" conflict between Russia and the West.

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"I fear that the war in Ukraine will get out of control, and spread into a major war between NATO and Russia," he said, adding "if things go wrong, they can go horribly wrong".

Stoltenberg's remarks come just a day after Russian leader Vladimir Putin floated the idea of using a hypersonic weapon in a “first strike”.

Putin said Russia could formally adopt the strategy of a preventive nuclear first strike to disarm an opponent, just days after warning the risk of nuclear war was increasing.

"Speaking about a disarming strike,” Putin said, “maybe it's worth thinking about adopting the ideas developed by our US counterparts, their ideas of ensuring their security.”

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The Russian leader stressed he wasn't about to trigger Armageddon: “We haven’t gone mad. We are fully aware of what nuclear weapons are."

But, he added: “We have them, and they are more advanced and state-of-the-art than what any other nuclear power has.”

He boasted Russia already had hypersonic cruise missiles that were ready to deploy and said the US was still playing catch-up.

John Erath, senior policy director for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said Putin’s statement was yet another attempt to intimidate the West.

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“He doesn’t quite say we’re going to launch nuclear weapons," Erath said. "But he wants the dialogue in the U.S. and Europe to be ’the longer this war goes on, the greater the threat of nuclear weapons might be used'."

US president Joe Biden has warned any use of a nuclear weapon by Russia would lead to an inevitable conclusion.

Speaking at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser in New York City in October, Mr Biden said: "I don't think there's any such thing as the ability to easily use tactical nuclear weapons and not end up with Armageddon."

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