The European commission has announced it is stockpiling equipment and medicines in preparation for a chemical or nuclear attack.
Vladimir Putin put Russia's nuclear forces on "high alert" in the first week of his invasion of Ukraine, raising the spectre of nuclear war to levels not seen since the Cold War.
Now the European Commission has said it is building a €540million emergency stockpile of “equipment and medicines, vaccines and other therapeutics” to treat patients exposed to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear emergencies.
The fund will also cover expert response teams who can be deployed in case of emergencies.
The commission's spokesperson for crisis management, Balazs Ujvari, told reporters on Wednesday: "First of all, there is a rescue strategic stockpile with over 540 million euros, which will be developed through the EU civil protection mechanism.
"This will comprise response equipment and medicines, vaccines and other therapeutics to treat patients exposed to CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear] emergencies.
"Secondly, a rescue decontamination reserve will be set up to provide decontamination equipment and expert response teams in an event of an emergency.
"As an immediate first step, the EU has already mobilized its rescue medical reserve to replenish stocks of potassium, iodine tablets to protect people from the harmful effects of radiations."
The Kremlin has raised the prospect of pressing the nuclear button, with Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, refusing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons if Russia was faced with an "existential threat".
Two weeks ago, Dmitry Polyanskiy, the Russian deputy ambassador to the UN, warning Moscow reserved the right to deploy nuclear weapons if "provoked".
Asked if Putin was right to hold the prospect of nuclear war over the rest of the world, Polyanskiy told Sky News: "If Russia is provoked by Nato, if Russia is attacked by Nato, why not, we are a nuclear power.