NATO went after both Russia and China on Wednesday, first demanding that China stop the spread of “blatant lies and misinformation,” then warning Russia to stop its “nuclear saber-rattling.”
Historically, such warnings from NATO have been little more than words that have changed less than zero, and given the unpredictability of Vladimir Putin–particularly now that he’s backed into a corner of his own making and Beijing’s increasing belligerent posture during the Biden presidency–it’s hard to see, to paraphrase Hillary, what difference any of it will now make.
As reported by Fox News, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters such talk of nuclear war is “dangerous” and “irresponsible.”
Russia must stop its nuclear saber-rattling. This is dangerous, and it is irresponsible. Any use of nuclear weapons will fundamentally change the nature of the conflict. And Russia must understand that nuclear war should never be fought. They can never win a nuclear war.
Stoltenberg then admonished China for, in effect, Beijing’s hypocrisy.
We face a fundamentally changed security environment where authoritarian powers are increasingly prepared to use force to get their way, Beijing has joined Moscow in questioning the right of independent nations to choose their own path. China has provided Russia with political support, including by spreading blatant lies and misinformation.
U.S. security officials have increasingly warned that China may look to provide material support to Russia – a move Biden warned against during his call with Xi Jinping last week. RedState’s Dennis Santiago provided an excellent analysis of the call, while I — being the skeptic I am — remain of the opinion that Xi continues to play Biden like a cheap fiddle.
According to China’s Foreign Ministry (see “analysis” link, above), Xi talked with Biden about “upholding international law and universally recognized norms governing international relations,” and how “China does not want to see the situation in Ukraine to come to this.”
“Chinese state media is pushing pro-Russian misinformation worldwide,” Foreign Policy’s headline read. As reported by the New York Times in early March, Chinese diplomats and state media organizations continually repeated Russia’s disinformation campaign that falsely claimed the Pentagon was financing biological weapons labs in Ukraine. (It wasn’t only China that glommed out those reports and ran with them.)
And in classic Kremlin fashion, Moscow has accused Washington and Kyiv of planning to use chemical weapons against Russian forces as they remain stalled across Ukraine, nearly five weeks after the war began — as a pretext to Russian use of tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine. As noted by Fox News, Stoltenberg shot down the accusation as “absolutely false,” as he reiterated NATO’s increasing concern over the rhetoric.
It may be a way for them to try to create a pretext for their use of chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons will totally change the nature of the conflict, and it will be a blatant violation of international law and will have far-reaching consensus. Any use of chemical weapons is absolutely unacceptable.”
So, as an increasingly impotent Biden travels to Poland on Wednesday, to begin the first leg of a hastily-arranged visit to Europe to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with NATO and European allies, NATO has issued a few warnings to the bad guys of its own.
The question is, will those warnings be any more effective than Biden’s sanctions? Your guess is as good as mine.
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