Following the latest nuclear threats and a partial military mobilisation announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo stressed the importance of remaining calm and not stoking the flames.
During a televised speech on Wednesday morning, Putin announced the need for a "partial mobilisation" of some 300,000 reservists to join its invasion of Ukraine to “protect” people in Russian-occupied regions of the country and made loosely veiled nuclear threats.
"I think we should respond with much-needed calmness. We must not stoke the flames. We must not provoke," De Croo told VRT in a reaction to Putin's speech, adding that we should not allow ourselves to be intimidated either. "We must be clear in our position and continue to support Ukraine."
He referred to the €55 million worth of weapons and resources Belgium already sent to Ukraine. "We will continue to do so, in the areas in which we are strong." This morning, it was also reported that the United Kingdom purchased Belgian howitzers and sent them to Ukraine because the Belgian government found the asking price too high.
De Croo also emphasised that this is not the first time Russia has threatened to deploy nuclear weapons. "A few months ago, Russia did the same, and NATO then responded in a very calm manner. I assume we will do the same now."
- Putin announces ‘partial mobilisation’ for war in Ukraine
- Belgian Foreign Minister meets with Ukrainian homologue in New York
- Belgium to give €12 million in military aid to Ukraine
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, told Reuters News Agency that a Russian mobilisation of troops was a predictable but very unpopular move. This, he said, should prove that the war "did not go as planned."
In Germany, people reacted with concern to Putin's words. "Russia's partial mobilisation of troops is a clear further escalation of the conflict in Ukraine," said German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck. "It is another bad and wrong move by Russia, which we will of course discuss to see how we can respond."
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte reacted similar to De Croo to Putin's threats, stating that he believes Russia is panicking. "However, I advise that we stay sharp."