The United States has been sending unofficial messages to Moscow for several months warning Russia’s leadership of the dire consequences of a possible use of nuclear weapons, according to U.S. officials who said the messages underscored what President Biden and his aides have said publicly, the U.S. newspaper reported. “Washington Post”, reports news.bg.
The Biden administration has generally decided to keep warnings about the consequences of a nuclear strike deliberately vague, so the Kremlin worries about how Washington might react, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The White House’s attempt to maintain so-called “strategic uncertainty” comes as Russia continues to escalate its rhetoric about the possible use of nuclear weapons amid a domestic mobilization aimed at stemming Russian military losses in eastern Ukraine.
The State Department made private communications with Moscow, but officials did not say who delivered the messages or the scope of their content.
It was not clear whether the United States had sent any new messages in the hours since Russian President Vladimir Putin issued his latest veiled nuclear threat during a speech announcing a partial mobilization early Wednesday, but a senior U.S. official said communication had continued consistently in recent months. .
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council and former president and prime minister, wrote in a Telegram post on Thursday that the territory in eastern Ukraine would be “adopted into Russia” after the conclusion of the Moscow-organized “referendums” and promised to strengthen security in these areas.
To defend this annexed land, Medvedev said, Russia is able to use not only its newly mobilized forces, but also “every Russian weapon, including strategic nuclear and those using new principles,” a reference to hypersonic weapons.
“Russia has chosen its path,” Medvedev added. “There is no going back.” The comments came a day after Putin proposed that Russia annex occupied lands in southern and eastern Ukraine and formally incorporate them into its territory.
He said he was not bluffing when he vowed to use all means at Russia’s disposal to protect the country’s territorial integrity — a veiled reference to the country’s nuclear arsenal. Biden administration officials stressed that this was not the first time the Russian leadership had threatened to use nuclear weapons since the start of the war on February 24, and said there was no indication that Russia was moving its nuclear weapons in preparation for an upcoming strike.
However, the recent statements by the Russian leadership are more specific than previous comments and come at a time when Russia is suffering battlefield losses from the US-backed Ukrainian counter-offensive.
While the Kremlin’s previous statements appeared to be aimed at warning the United States and its allies not to go too far in helping Ukraine, Putin’s latest comments suggest that Russia is considering using nuclear weapons on the battlefield in Ukraine to end Ukrainian successes and force Kyiv and its backers to back down, said Darryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a nonproliferation advocacy group in Washington.
“What everyone has to recognize is that this is one of the most serious, if not the most serious, episode in which nuclear weapons could be used in decades,” Kimball said. “The consequences of even a so-called ‘limited nuclear war’ would be absolutely catastrophic.
For years, U.S. nuclear experts have worried that Russia could use smaller tactical nuclear weapons, sometimes called “battlefield nukes,” to end a conventional war in its favor — a strategy sometimes described as “escalating to de-escalation”.
On Thursday, Vadim Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, told Britain’s ITV News that it was possible Russia would use nuclear weapons against Ukraine “to stop our offensive activity and destroy our state.”
“It’s a threat to other countries,” Skibicki said. “The detonation of a tactical nuclear weapon will have an impact not only in Ukraine, but also in the Black Sea region.” The Ukrainians have tried to signal that even a Russian nuclear strike will not force them to capitulate — and in fact, it may have the opposite effect.
“Threatens nuclear weapons… Ukrainians?” – Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Putin still hasn’t figured out who he’s dealing with.
In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, Biden was asked what he would say to Putin if the Russian leader were considering using nuclear weapons in the conflict against Ukraine. “Don’t. Do not. don’t,” Biden said. what they do”.
The Biden administration will face a crisis if Russia uses a low-yield nuclear weapon in Ukraine, which is not a treaty ally of the United States. Any direct US military response against Russia would risk the possibility of a wider war between the nuclear-armed superpowers — the avoidance of which the Biden administration has made its No. 1 priority throughout its Ukraine policy.
Matthew Kroenig, a professor of management at Georgetown University and director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, argued that the administration’s best option, if faced with a limited Russian nuclear strike in Ukraine, could be to act in support for Ukraine and conducting a limited conventional strike against Russian forces or bases that launched the attack.
“If Russian forces in Ukraine launched the nuclear attack, the United States could strike directly against those forces,” Kroenig said. “It would be appropriate to send a message that this does not mean a major war, this is a limited strike. If you are Putin, what will you do in response?
I don’t think he’s going to say, “Let’s immediately launch all nuclear weapons at the United States.” But even a limited conventional strike by the US military against Russia would be seen as reckless by many in Washington, who would oppose the risk of full-scale war with a nuclear-armed Russia.
James M. Acton, co-director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said it doesn’t make sense at this point to examine U.S. responses because there is such a wide range of possible Russian actions — from an underground nuclear test, that doesn’t hurt anyone, to a massive explosion that kills tens of thousands of civilians – and there are no signs that Putin is close to crossing the threshold.
“If he is really thinking very seriously about using nuclear weapons in the near future, he would almost certainly want us to know that,” Acton said. “He would rather threaten to use nuclear weapons and get us to make concessions than actually go down the path of using them.”
U.S. officials stepped up efforts at the U.N. General Assembly this week to dissuade Russia from seriously considering what would be the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict since the United States’ 1945 atomic bombing of Japan.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, speaking at a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday, said Russia’s “reckless nuclear threats must stop immediately”.
“This week, President Putin said that Russia would not hesitate to use, and I quote, ‘all available weapons systems’ in response to a threat to its territorial integrity — a threat made all the more terrifying given the Russians’ intent to annex large swaths of Ukraine in the coming days,” Blinken said.
“When this is over, we can expect President Putin to label any Ukrainian effort to liberate this land as an attack on ‘Russian territory.’
Blinken noted that in January Russia joined other permanent members of the Security Council in signing a joint statement declaring that “nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”