US Defense Chief Insists Russia Won’t Use Nukes in Ukraine
Story Code : 1017238
"I don't see anything right now that would lead me to believe that he [Russian President Vladimir Putin] has made such a decision," Austin said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Saturday and due to be aired on Sunday.
The Pentagon chief said that Washington had previously communicated these concerns to Moscow via top-level channels. When asked if he had any recent contacts with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Austin responded negatively.
Despite claiming that “there are no checks on Putin,” the Pentagon chief dismissed recent warnings by the Russian president – including his vow that he was not “bluffing” about Moscow’s willingness to use nuclear arms “to defend Russia and our people” – as unworthy of a global superpower.
“This nuclear saber-rattling is not the kind of thing that we would expect to hear from leaders of large countries with capability,” Austin underlined, but then added: “Just as [Putin] made the irresponsible decision to invade Ukraine, you know, he could make another decision” to use nuclear weapons there.
His remarks came after US officials and mainstream media outlets accused the Russian president of making “nuclear threats” against Ukraine in his speech to the nation on September 21, when he declared partial mobilization and status referendums in eastern Ukrainian regions of Donbass, Kherson and Zaporozhye.
What Putin had actually stated, however, was that Kiev and its Western sponsors had “resorted to nuclear blackmail,” insisting that Moscow would not hesitate to respond in kind if its security interests were threatened.
“I am referring not only to the Western-encouraged shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, which poses a threat of a nuclear disaster, but also to the statements made by some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO countries on the possibility and admissibility of using weapons of mass destruction – nuclear weapons – against Russia,” Putin said at the time.
“I would like to remind those who make such statements regarding Russia that our country has different types of weapons as well, and some of them are more modern than the weapons NATO countries possess,” he then emphasized. “In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.”