Caitlin Johnstone: NATO Chief’s ‘Fear of War With Russia’

Meanwhile, the Pentagon gives its Ukraine proxy the go-ahead to launch long-range attacks on targets inside its neighboring nuclear superpower. Not too long ago this was unthinkably terrifying. This is where we are now.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a foreign policy forum on Oct. 19. (NATO)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article.

In what Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp describes as “a rare acknowledgment of the dangers of backing Ukraine,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged a fear of something going “horribly wrong” and leading to a hot war between the nuclear-armed alliance and Russia.

In “‘I fear a full-blown war between the West and Russia’, Nato chief warns,” The Daily Telegraph of London’s article offers the following:

“ ‘I fear that the war in Ukraine will get out of control, and spread into a major war between Nato and Russia,’ said Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, responding to a question about his greatest fears for the winter in an interview.

He told Norwegian broadcaster NRK on Friday that he was confident such a scenario could be avoided but that the threat was there.

‘If things go wrong, they can go horribly wrong,’ he added.”

Things absolutely can go horribly wrong when dealing with an increasingly aggressive standoff between nuclear superpowers, as we have seen from history.

The last Cold War saw many nuclear close calls as a result of technical malfunctions and misunderstandings, including an incident during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the only thing that prevented a nuclear-armed Soviet submarine from deploying its weapon on the U.S. military was one officer refusing to go along with two others who were giving the orders to fire.

[Related: RAY McGOVERN: Thanks to a Soviet Navy Captain — We Survived 1962]

We got a taste of this horror once again last month in the long minutes following erroneous reports that Russia had launched missiles at NATO member Poland. The fact that cooler heads have prevailed up until this point does not mean that nuclear brinkmanship is safe, any more than a game of Russian roulette not ending after the first couple of trigger pulls would mean that Russian roulette is safe to play.

Stoltenberg is correct to be afraid. There absolutely are too many things that can go horribly wrong in such a standoff, and there are simply too many unpredictable moving parts for anyone to feel confident that this will not happen.

And it’s pretty crazy to hear Stoltenberg voice these concerns even while the Pentagon gives the go-ahead for Ukraine to begin launching long-range attacks on targets inside Russia in its war that is being backed by the United States, because those two positions would seem to be pretty strongly at odds with each other.

In “Pentagon gives Ukraine green light for drone strikes inside Russia,” The Times of London last week reported as follows:

“The Pentagon has given a tacit endorsement of Ukraine’s long-range attacks on targets inside Russia after President Putin’s multiple missile strikes against Kyiv’s critical infrastructure.

Since daily assaults on civilians began in October, the Pentagon has revised its threat assessment of the war in Ukraine. Crucially, this includes new judgments about whether arms shipments to Kyiv might lead to a military confrontation between Russia and Nato.

This represents a significant development in the nine-month war between Ukraine and Russia, with Washington now likelier to supply Kyiv with longer-range weapons.”

The Times quotes a “US defence source” as saying the following: “We’re not saying to Kyiv, ‘Don’t strike the Russians [in Russia or Crimea]’. We can’t tell them what to do. It’s up to them how they use their weapons. But when they use the weapons we have supplied, the only thing we insist on is that the Ukrainian military conform to the international laws of war and to the Geneva conventions.”

“They are the only limitations but that includes no targeting of Russian families and no assassinations. As far as we’re concerned, Ukraine has been in compliance,” the source says, which is a strange assertion given that U.S. intelligence has reportedly concluded Ukraine was behind the assassination of the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin.

“Ukraine has been careful to use its own drones, not US-supplied weapons, to carry out the strikes,” The Times reports, while also noting that “Pentagon officials have made it clear that requests from Kyiv for longer-range US weapons, including rockets and fighter bombers which could be used for even more effective strikes inside Russia or occupied Crimea, are being seriously considered.”

This revelation comes days after Ukraine launched its most brazen attack into Russian territory yet, with drone strikes on bases that killed multiple Russian soldiers and damaged two nuclear-capable bombers. Not too long ago the U.S. waging a proxy war that features direct attacks on Russia’s nuclear forces would have been an unthinkably terrifying prospect, yet that’s where we’re at now, and it only seems to be escalating.

Empire apologists will try to make this a conversation about whether Ukraine has a “right” to attack Russian territory, which is a red herring. Obviously, Ukraine has a right to attack a nation that is attacking it; that’s not the point. The real issue is the danger of provoking a hot war between nuclear superpowers, which is making even the NATO secretary-general increasingly nervous.

The Western power alliance continually ramping up aggressions to test how far it could provoke Russia is what led to this conflict in the first place. Now we’re at a point where there isn’t much space for Russia to back up before it’s against the ropes and potentially pressed to do something nobody wants. These people should not be talking about escalation, they should be talking about de-escalation. We need diplomacy, de-escalation and detente, and we needed them yesterday.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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20 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: NATO Chief’s ‘Fear of War With Russia’

  1. Joe Wallace
    December 16, 2022 at 15:52

    So while torrents of weapons and ammunition flow into Ukraine, we have “drip-fed diplomacy,” as Binoy Kampmark puts it. What could possibly go wrong?

  2. Rex Williams
    December 14, 2022 at 22:30

    “Fear of war with Russia”

    For the readers of Caitlin’s article, from someone like Stoltenberg, such a comment is quite surprising, well to me. I have followed his warlike statements over time and in his role as Master of Ceremonies for wars for NATO’s participation it is somewhat out of order. Might be viewed unfavourably by his sponsors, the good old USA.

    But he is right. At the current pace with the comedian in charge in Ukraine, no action to bring this proxy war to an end is ever likely to come from such a person as Zelenskyy. He has achieved the status of “Person of the Year” and he is obviously loving ever minute of his new fame and hoped for fortune. But how many of his Ukrainians will die because of him?

    • Frank
      December 15, 2022 at 17:57

      To Caitlin and everyone. Don’t be fooled into thinking he’s afraid. ITs EXACTLY WHAT THESE DEMONS CRAVE AND HOPE FOR. They literally thrive on war and mass suffering. His words are a diversion from their true collective desire to Ser the world in flames. Think- if he were truly concerned, he could have called for drastic de escalation asap. This man is a professional warmonger, war criminal and liar just like his demented boss in Washington

  3. Jeff Andrews
    December 14, 2022 at 21:25

    Stoltenberg is finally realizing he’s way out his depth, him and his bloody ego.

  4. Korey Dykstra
    December 14, 2022 at 17:31

    The duplicity of the west is beyond belief. Angela Merkel’s admission of her connivance to deceive Putin on the Minsk accords has left me wondering if any western leader has the ability to tell the truth while looking one in the eye. The world would better off to wean themselves from the western powers over time and create economic and military blocks in order to defend themselves if that is possible. Probably not, especially with America spreading it’s cancerous invasions where ever it wants to

  5. Robert Sinuhe
    December 14, 2022 at 12:34

    Words are cheap and in this case counterproductive. Moreover, they are a salve for those who feel they are aiding the situation. Where are the solutions?

    • robert e williamson jr
      December 14, 2022 at 15:37

      Robert I have a great idea. How about we get the CIA and it’s counterparts in the intelligence community and the neocons to butt out of prosecuting foreign policy by war first and the following nation building. It has not worked yet!

      Let me repeat myself at the risk of becoming a repetitive bore, again I’ll state, “this all could have been handled much differently.”

      And now for my most recent favorite “soap box” cause.

      I obtained a copy of AMERICAN DISPATCHES written by the late great Robert Parry. I strongly recommend everyone who contribute comments here obtain a copy and start reading it. It’s an unbelievable effort by the CN founder.

      The rich recent historical text tells the story the best I’ve seen so far. All one needs to do is start reading it and by end of the first 200 pages one can see clearly what the problem is and why things are the way they are today.

      I sure as hell could ever explain this story of misuse of power better that Bob and his son Nat.

      Besides it will be a great way to give Robert and his family the respect they deserve for working so hard for the rest of us.

      Thanks CN

    • mgr
      December 14, 2022 at 16:44

      Robert: Words are in fact all we have. The only solution at this point is a self-awakening on the part of the public. It is, after all, only their overt and tactic support that gives power to and enables this madness to continue.

      In that regard, I highly recommend this extraordinary discussion between Glenn Diesen, Alexander Mercouris, and Ray McGovern. It cogently shatters the underlying narrative the US and NATO countries have concocted to shore up support for their efforts in prosecuting this conflict. The thread begins in 2016.

      BTW, I personally am not one for watching videos online, I prefer to read, but I took a look and was riveted. If you or anyone else are interested, it really helps to break the spell. Anyway, for your interest:


    • mgr
      December 15, 2022 at 07:10

      Robert: I agree with robert above. In addition, I would suggest that words are in fact all we have. The only solution at this point is a self-awakening on the part of the public. It is, after all, only their overt and tactic support that gives power to and enables this madness to continue.

      In that regard, I highly recommend this extraordinary discussion between Glenn Diesen, Alexander Mercouris, and Ray McGovern. It cogently traces the politicization of America’s intelligence services rebuts the underlying narrative that the US and NATO countries have concocted to shore up support for prosecuting this conflict.

      BTW, I personally am not one for watching videos online, I prefer to read articles, but I took a look and was riveted. If you or anyone else are interested, it really helps to break the spell. Anyway, for your interest:


  6. Drew Hunkins
    December 14, 2022 at 10:48

    Along with all this the UK just admitted yesterday that Royal Marines operatives are in Ukraine conducting missions against the Russian forces.

    Just last year this kind of brazen Western attack on the Russian military would have been unthinkable.

    Let’s hope Putin doesn’t allow the West to cross too many red lines to the point when the Kremlin’s left with no choice but to strike back incredible hard. The neocons are crazed and delusional, they seem to have no ability to grasp how powerful Russia’s military capability can be.

    The hubris and stupidity could get us all killed.

    • CNfan
      December 14, 2022 at 19:40

      Who are the neocons? Why are they always pushing for war? How do they have so much influence on our foreign policy?

      • Rex Williams
        December 15, 2022 at 18:44

        A short answer to a response which really justifies a lot of space, too much for this CN comment section. The Neocons……

        They are the “advisors” who led Bush by the nose into Iraq, Syria; whose controller, Israel, owns both houses of the US government; whose prime objective is to have America conform to the long term objectives of the Netanyahu’s of this world and who have little or no interest in anything other than the elimination of Palestine as a country and the control of the Middle East.
        To do this, they now have 400+ nuclear weapons with Americas great help and sadly, JFK’s death, their objective being the ownership of all lands from the Euphrates to the Nile and the ownership of portions of land in many, many countries in that part of the world such as Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and of course, Palestine, their people attacked daily with US approval and financial assistance. Mainstream media under their thumb, US funding unlimited.

        This then is the name of the game. Control America to then control the United Nations to do nothing to save Palestine. Objective achieved.

        They subscribe to the Israeli dictate called “Eretz Israel” and over time now occupy prime positions in the US government where they function with the approval of the majority of elected members in both houses. Secretary of State, Deputy Secretary of State’s and an estimated 70% of Biden’s cabinet and probably half of the Political consultancy (pressure) groups in Washington led by AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) among hundreds of others.

        They control the USA. Full stop. As an Israeli Prime Minister once said…”we own America”….and of course, they do!

        A brief description for CNfan

      • J Anthony
        December 16, 2022 at 08:53

        These types have been embedded into the system for generations- dynasties of military officials, weapons contractors, bankers, politicians- all who are likely convinced that they are the heroes of the world.

  7. Packard
    December 14, 2022 at 08:26

    While the original Cold War ended in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR, the seeds of this next war were knowingly sown in 1999 with the US led expansion of NATO into Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. The expansion decision suggested that no one in all of Washington, DC had considered the benefits of having a long term demilitarized neutral (trade) zone to separate the potential antagonists of Western Europe and Russia.

    Yet here we are today. Like Napoleon and that other notorious mid twentieth century German dictator before us, America is now pounding on the front door of Russia. What vital American strategic interest that ever needed defending in all of Eastern Europe is still anyone’s guess. A pity only that no one in bi partisan Washington DC has bothered to explain to the rest of us those vital interests at stake in Ukraine.

    The cost for engaging in such mindless foreign policy mischief, however, may surprise many Americans when the final bill comes due. D*mn!

  8. mgr
    December 14, 2022 at 07:16

    Thank you as always. It seems that the Western world is simply sleepwalking into this. The lunatics are now running the asylum with little or no adult supervision. The closer Russia comes to finishing Ukraine, the more rabid the “neos” of America and the Biden administration become. Similar to the “being welcomed as liberators in Iraq” myth, “neos” are effectively stupid. It’s not that they can’t think, it’s their ideology that makes them so. They believe their own rhetoric and their psychopathy distorts reality. And the mother-lode underneath all this, in their dark little hearts, I am sure, is that they would just really love to “drop a nuke” on Russia and are searching for a way to get around the last rational constraints to that end. They truly believe that this would establish the US, that is, themselves, as the world’s top dog. That, of course, is beyond irrational, but for them rationality left the station long ago.

    Russia has recently explained its final retaliatory deterrence strategy, a dose of reality, that is, what happens when America/NATO finally loses it’s mind completely. 100s of unstoppable by US defense technology missiles will immediately be launched when America launches its own. Collectively, they will turn the US into a burnt cinder. Putin acknowledges that Russia will certainly be hurt as well but will survive. The US? Not so much. Beyond the bullshit that passes for information in the Western press, this is not hyperbole [see Ray McGovern, hxxps://]. I doubt the European NATO countries will fare any better. So, effectively the end of at least Western civilization as we know it.

    The salient point is that the “neos’s” urge is irrational. They just want to do it, in the same way an addict craves another fix. All other thought is subsumed and rationalized to that. And now, as Russia is set to overwhelm Ukraine, the “neos” are experiencing the one thing they truly fear above all else, the fear of being embarrassed and shown up for the empty sacks that they really are. Don’t think for a moment that they would not willingly burn the world down to avoid that. It’s just who they are, what a “neo” actually is. They will not stop. Someone has to stop them. And who will that be?

    I find Stoltenberg despicable. I believe that he understands the outcomes but has played his role because he has personally profited immensely from his role in NATO both in coin and prestige. Oh how these petty fools love the stage. He is America’s front-man puppet in Europe, albeit with Nuland pulling his strings. But despicable or not, he still may not be an around-the-bend neo and he is either so nervous that he is accidentally falling off message, after all, it is not in the “neo’s” best interests to speak about the world getting fried, the rubes may get nervous, or, he is just doing the Zelenski thing and barking for more donations. At this point, who knows? And the US public is cheering. Their support, also in Europe, has enabled this. A collective psychosis, perhaps too many American movies. Sadness does not begin to describe it.

    • Arch Stanton
      December 14, 2022 at 14:47

      Fantastic synopsis mgr, thank you

      • mgr
        December 14, 2022 at 16:08

        Arch: Many thanks. I wish none of this was true.

    • R. Billie
      December 14, 2022 at 22:59

      Hear hear, mgr. We should have you and Drew Hunkins running the State Department.

  9. Michael Perry
    December 14, 2022 at 04:40

    According to a Gallup poll published on Tuesday, December 13th…:
    19% of those surveyed throughout 2022 rated “government” as the “most important problem”.
    16% to the “inflation”.
    12% to the “economy”.
    ….. And since April, the UKR has polled at less than 1% or below for the last five months,
    even as Washington pumped tens of billions of dollars into military aid for Kiev.

    Petro Poroshenko – need I say more? … But, he has already “.. confessed ..”.

    Angela Merkel – [.. Snowden, etc. ..] … And, she has already “.. confessed ..” as well.

    By November 2016, Hollande’s approval rating was just 4%.
    But, François should not he be talking too?

    And lastly, what does Obama “.. have to say ..”?

    I think it’s high time for the truth to come out in a Tribunal about Minsk 1 and Minsk 2..

  10. Francis Lee
    December 14, 2022 at 03:54

    The whole Ukraine imbroglio probably started with the ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004. The hard-fought presidential election of 2004 had brought Ukraine to the brink of disintegration and civil war. Cleared to seek a third term as president by the Constitutional Court, former President Kuchma instead endorsed the candidacy of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. That was just the first trial run of western inspired ‘regime change’.

    The second round of Ukrainian the regime change game came with the overthrow of the legitimate and sitting President Victor Yanukovic. The background of what was basically a coup and the implications of the 2014 far-right coup in Kiev, is critical for understanding the current Ukraine-Russia war. This coup itself was openly supported by US and Europeans and implemented primarily by far-right shock troops such as the Right Sector and the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party.

    The actors in this putsch were more notably Victoria Nuland, Geoffrey Pyatt, and front organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Soros’ Open Society (OSF) Human Rights Watch (HRW).

    The ‘Battle of the Maidan” as it became known was a coup with its armed foot-soldiers bussed in from all points west of the Dnieper.

    Yanukovic had to run for his life and Poroshenko (his former finance minister) became de facto President. Then the first war started against the Russian speaking Donbass in 2014. The Donbass militias, together with volunteers from the East, however, put ting up a stiff resistance and inflicting two defeats on the Ukie Army in Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo in 2015. From that day on shelling started by the Ukrainians killing up to 14,000.00 inhabitants of the Donbass.

    Not satisfied with that, the right-wing powers-that-be in Kiev wound themselves up for another trial run at the Donbass, massing some 60,000 troops on the contact line early in February 2020. That was the final straw for Putin. The rest of course is history.

    Of course the whole business could have been settled as early as March 2015 of this year in a brokered peace agreement in Istanbul by Zelensky and his and his team. But the British and Americans were having none of it. They wanted war, and war is what they got. There was also the farce of Minsk agreements brokered by the Germans, French and Russians. A particularly insidious role being played by Angela Merkel; it has finally emerged that Merkel was playing a spoiler role to stall any notion of success with the Minsk ‘Agreement’.

    So the West got its war with Russia with the neo-cons, the CIA, MI6 and the rest of the warmongers who apparently rule the roost.

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