The US has issued a stark warning to Russia, saying that “decisive” actions and “catastrophic” consequences will follow if the Kremlin deploys nuclear weapons in its invasion of Ukraine.
“If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.
Sullivan declined to specify the potential US reaction, only saying: “In private channels we have spelled out in greater detail exactly what that would mean.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken sounded a similar note in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
“It’s very important that Moscow hear from us and know from us that the consequences would be horrific, and we’ve made that very clear,” Blinken said on Sunday.
Like Sullivan, Blinken also said that the US response to Russia’s deployment of its nuclear arsenal would be “catastrophic.”
Washington’s strong-worded response came just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin made a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons against the West while announcing a partial mobilization to bolster Moscow’s battered forces in eastern Ukraine.
“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal,” Putin said, adding, “It’s not a bluff.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that Putin’s words should not be taken lightly.
“I don’t think he’s bluffing,” Zelensky told CBS’ “Face the Nation”. “He wants to scare the whole world. These are the first steps of his nuclear blackmail.”
On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Moscow was in “sporadic” contact with Washington about nuclear issues.
“There are channels for dialogue at the proper level, but they are of a very sporadic nature,” Peskov said, according to Reuters. “At least they allow for the exchange of some emergency messages about each other’s positions.”
There is a growing concern in the West that Putin’s regime may seek to escalate the conflict once it completes referendums that are currently taking place in parts of Ukraine under Russian control, including the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The voting, viewed by Ukraine and its allies as illegal, ends on Tuesday. Russia is expected to declare the results in its favor no matter the outcome, bringing Moscow one step closer to annexing the territories — and giving Russia the pretext to defend those regions by whatever means necessary.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that the regions in question would be under the “full protection of the state.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s partial draft has proved extremely unpopular at home, sending thousands of men of military age flocking to airports and land border crossings in a desperate bid to avoid being called up.
Protests in various parts of Russia over the weekend resulted in thousands of arrests, and local media have reported an increasing number of arson attacks on military enlistment offices.
With Post Wires