A retired Russian colonel threatens that a nuclear war could break out amid Sweden’s attempt to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Russia has long threatened that tensions would escalate if Sweden successfully joined NATO. Now, as it appears Sweden will indeed become a part of NATO, rhetoric from Russian military leaders has increased.
According to Newsweek, these latest threats were said by Mikhail Khodaryonok, a retired Russian colonel, while he was on a Russian state TV news program. An adviser to the Ukrainian minister of internal affairs shared the clip of Khodaryonok online, which went viral.
Many threats of nuclear weapons use have occurred since Russia invaded Ukraine. Whether these threats are serious or not remains up for debate. However, predictions of nuclear war have greatly increased since Sweden announced its intent to join NATO, a scenario that Russia does not want to see happen.
While on Russian state TV, Khodaryonok explained how tensions will only rise with NATO upon Sweden’s joining, saying, “This would, in fact, lead to a conflict between the Russian Federation and NATO. And this conflict can only be nuclear. This is why the inhabitants of Stockholm and Tallinn can be asked do you need it?”
Since earlier this year, Sweden has been trying to join NATO. However, Turkey kept this from happening, as the country opposed Sweden’s joining. This summer, Turkey’s opposition was dropped, seemingly paving the way for Sweden to finally join.
Earlier this year, Finland officially became a nation a part of NATO. Both Finland and Sweden announced their intent to join after Russia’s increasingly violent expansions into Ukraine. From 1999 to 2004, many other Baltic nations, such as Poland and Estonia, joined NATO.
Now, many of the nations around the Baltic Sea are a part of NATO, save Russia. Russian military officials and propagandists have long said that they view NATO’s expansion as an increase in hostile actions toward Russia.
Russia's new strategic nuclear submarine, the Imperator Alexander III, successfully tested a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile, the defense ministry said https://t.co/iXYYEPXnDW pic.twitter.com/1blQtEKNFJ
— Reuters (@Reuters) November 5, 2023
However, countries near Russia have turned to NATO for military protection. According to Article 5 of the NATO agreement, an attack on one member state is an attack on all member states. So, if Russia attacks Sweden, then all NATO members will view this as an attack on their own soil. Necessary military aid would soon follow.
Therefore, many analysts worry that a large-scale war, with many countries involved, could occur if Russia continues to increase its military presence in Europe.