Oil depots on fire in Russia's Rostov region after alleged drone attack Oil depots on fire in Russia's Rostov region after alleged drone attack 

Ukraine strikes Russia despite nuclear fears

An overnight attack on two oil depots inside Russia's Rostov region was reportedly carried out by the Security Service of Ukraine, just days after several countries agreed with Kyiv that it could use Western weapons to hit targets on Russian territory despite concerns about nuclear escalation.

By Stefan J. Bos  

Listen to Stefan Bos' report

Destructive power

However, experts say the destructive power of tactical nuclear arms, while typically smaller than strategic weapons, is still comparable with atomic bombs used by the United States to destroy the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War Two.

In response, the NATO Western military alliance is modernizing its nuclear arsenal, suggests its outgoing secretary general Jens Stoltenberg. "What we have seen over the last years and months is a dangerous nuclear rhetoric from the Russian side. We have seen that Russia has announced that they have deployed nuclear weapons to Belarus," Stoltenberg explained.

"We have also seen some more exercises, nuclear exercises from the Russian side, and we also have to bear in mind that we don't only face nuclear challenges from Russia, but also from China. And then we have the nuclear program of North Korea and then the efforts by Iran," he said, referring to three allies of Russia. "So for all these reasons, we have to clearly communicate that our nuclear deterrent is effective," Stoltenberg added.        

However, with Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine threatening to escalate into a broader conflict, several countries have urged Kyiv and Moscow to start peace talks.

A peace summit in Switzerland ended with most but not all countries signing a final declaration as Ukraine insists on keeping all its territory, something Moscow refuses.

With Jens Stoltenberg leaving as NATO secretary general, it will be for his successor to manage the alliance through turbulent times.

Acting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will likely be appointed as the next NATO chief after Hungary suggested it had lifted its objections.

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18 June 2024, 17:15