Pentagon’s top general in charge of nuclear weapons is briefing Defense Secretary Austin up to three times a week and are more concerned Russia could use their arsenal than at any point since the Cold War
- US has not seen indications Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons
- CIA Director William Burns has said Putin may resort to tactical nukes out of ‘desperation’ amid military setbacks in Ukraine
- Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the military is monitoring the issue ‘every single day’
- Austin is being briefed two or three times a day, officials told CNN
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is getting regular briefings on the state of Russia’s nuclear weapons – following saber rattling by Moscow and a top US intelligence warning about how a ‘desperate’ Russia might act in Ukraine.
Adm. Charles Richard, head of the US Strategic Command, is providing the briefings two or three times a week, CNN reported.
The US hasn’t identified any moves Moscow is making to use nuclear weapons, although analysts have concluded Russia may reach into its arsenal of tactical or battlefield nuclear weapons amid a series of setbacks with its invasion of Ukraine.
The officials said Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley as well as the White House would be briefed quickly if there were sudden developments.
Last year it was revealed that Milley called a meeting of top staff to review U.S. nuclear process in the final weeks before Trump left office amid the Jan. 6th Capitol riot and potential national security threats.
Russia continues to lob scores of missiles at targets across Ukraine, taking out apartment buildings, schools and hospitals. CIA DIrector William Burns warned in a speech this month that, ‘Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons.’
Navy Adm. Charles Richard, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, is providing regular briefings to Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin on Russia’s nuclear arsenal
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned of the potential nuclear threat from Russia.
‘We shouldn’t wait for the moment when Russia decides to use nuclear weapons,’ he told Ukrainian news media this week. ‘We must prepare for that.’
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on Tuesday referenced Russia’s early comments about nuclear weapons. Russia said after the start of the Feb. 24 invasion it had placed nuclear forces on high alert.
CIA Director William Burns warned that a ‘desperate’ Putin might turn to tactical nuclear weapons
Russia responded with furious missile attacks after the sinking of the Moskva, flagship of the Black Sea fleet
Russian soldiers wear chemical protection suits as they stand next to a military fueler on the base of a prime mover of Russian Topol intercontinental ballistic missile during a training session at the Serpukhov’s military missile forces research institute some 100km outside Moscow on April 6, 2010. The US has not seen indications Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons
This grab made from a handout video footage released by the Russian Defence Ministry on April 20, 2022 shows the launching of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile at Plesetsk testing field, Russia
‘We took note of what Mr. Putin said in the early days of this invasion. I think it’s also important to add that there hasn’t been more of that rhetoric following that initial salvo in the early days,’ he said. ‘But yes, look, in light of what’s going on in Ukraine, and certainly in light of the early rhetoric, we are actively monitoring every single day, and even today, and even today, the secretary remains comfortable that we have an appropriate strategic deterrent posture in place, and there’s no need to make any changes to it.’
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov provided potential assurances in comments to PBS in late March, when he cited Russian nuclear doctrine. ‘But any outcome of the operation (in Ukraine), of course is not a reason for usage of a nuclear weapon,’ he said. ‘We have a security concept that very clearly states that only when there is a threat for existence of the state, in our country, we can use and we will actually use nuclear weapons to eliminate the threat for the existence of our country.’
Despite its battlefield successes defending its country, there is little chance Ukraine presents a threat to Russia itself – although Kremlin rhetoric during the buildup to the invasion described the invasion as an effort to ‘denazify’ Ukraine – raising the possibility Russia could try to spin the country as an existential threat.