The United States has expressed concern after a Kremlin official refused to rule out the possibility of Russia using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine.
Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to Russian President Vladimir Putin, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that Russia would only use its nuclear arsenal if there was an existential threat.
“We have a concept of homeland security, well, it’s public. You can read all the reasons nuclear weapons are used,” he said. “So if this is an existential threat to our country, then it [the nuclear option] can be used according to our concept.
The Pentagon called the remarks “dangerous”, while seeking to minimize the risk of a nuclear conflict.
“This is not the way a responsible nuclear power should act,” Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said. However, he said the Pentagon had “seen nothing that would lead us to conclude that we need to change our strategic deterrence posture.”
At a press conference on Monday, Kirby said the Pentagon had no indication that Russia was planning to install nuclear weapons in Belarus, and he would not answer a question about whether the United States would consider that. as an escalation of conflict.
Former US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta also called Peskov’s comments “dangerous”. But he Recount CNN, “I don’t know if that’s going to happen” because “Putin has to worry about how the United States would react, and he has to worry about his own survival.”
Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin and his officials have cultivated doubts about the possibility that Russia could use its nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
Asked by Amanpour on Tuesday whether Putin would use the nuclear option, Peskov said: “President Putin intends to make sure the world listens and understands our concerns. We tried to voice our concerns to the world, in Europe, in the United States, for a few decades, but no one would listen to us.