President Joe Biden’s administration has warned the Kremlin that any use of nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine would have “catastrophic consequences” for Moscow, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.
Sullivan’s remarks are the latest U.S. warning after Vladimir Putin threatened last Wednesday the possible use of nuclear weapons in a speech in which the Russian president also announced his country’s first military deployment since World War II.
“If Russia crosses that line, there will be disastrous consequences for Russia.
“The United States will respond decisively,” Sullivan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The US official did not outline the nature of the planned US response in his remarks today, but said Washington had in private talks with Moscow “specified in more detail exactly what that would mean”.
The US national security adviser stressed that the US is in frequent, direct contact with Russia, including in recent days to discuss the situation in Ukraine and Putin’s actions and threats.
US President Joe Biden in his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday accused Putin of making “blatant nuclear threats against Europe” in reckless disregard for non-proliferation responsibilities.
Russia is holding a referendum in four regions of eastern Ukraine aimed at annexing territory seized by Russian forces during their invasion of Ukraine that began in February.
Ukraine and its allies have called the referendums a fraud designed to justify an escalation of the war and Putin’s move to mobilize after recent battlefield losses.
By incorporating the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions into Russia, Moscow could interpret attacks to retake them as an attack on Russia itself, a warning to Ukraine and its Western allies.
After setbacks on the battlefield, Putin is mobilizing 300,000 troops, while also threatening to use “all available means” to protect Russia.
“This is not a bluff,” Putin said in remarks seen on the world stage as a threat to the possible use of nuclear weapons.
Sullivan said today: “Putin remains intent … on exterminating the people of Ukraine who do not believe they have a right to exist.
“So it will continue and we must continue with weapons, ammunition, intelligence and all the support we can provide.”