Russian official warns of World War Three if Ukraine joins NATO

LONDON, Oct 13 (Reuters) – If Ukraine is admitted into the US-led NATO military alliance then the conflict in Ukraine would be guaranteed to escalate into World War III, a Russian Security Council official was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin officially announced the annexation of up to 18% of Ukraine on September 30, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy surprisingly announced an offer for fast-track membership in NATO.

Full NATO membership for Ukraine is a long way off because all 30 members of the alliance would have to give their consent.

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“Kyiv is aware that such a step would mean a guaranteed escalation to World War III,” Alexander Venediktov, deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, was quoted as saying by TASS.

Venediktov, deputy Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, a powerful Putin ally, said he believes Ukraine’s request is propaganda because the West understands the implications of Ukraine’s NATO membership.

“The suicidal nature of such a move is understood by NATO members themselves,” he said.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly railed against the United States for pursuing NATO’s eastward expansion, particularly its promotion of former Soviet republics like Ukraine and Georgia, which Russia considers part of its own sphere of influence.

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Putin warned the West on September 21 that he was not bluffing when he said he was prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia against what he called “nuclear blackmail” by major Western powers.

US President Joe Biden said the world faces the greatest risk of nuclear Armageddon since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. NATO will hold an annual nuclear preparedness exercise dubbed Steadfast Noon next week.

Russia and the United States are by far the largest nuclear powers: they control about 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads.

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Venediktov said Zelenskyy’s call for pre-emptive strikes against Russia was dangerous and warned that nuclear war would have disastrous consequences for the world.

“We must remember: a nuclear conflict will affect absolutely the whole world – not just Russia and the collective West, but every country on this planet,” Venediktov said. “The consequences would be catastrophic for all of humanity.”

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reporting on Lidia Kelly and Guy Faulconbridge; Edited by Robert Birsel and Toby Chopra

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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