Refusal to rule out nuclear option by Kremlin ‘dangerous’ – US

The Pentagon has denounced a Kremlin spokesman’s refusal earlier on Tuesday to rule out the use of nuclear weapons during the Ukraine war.

Dmitry Peskov speaking to CNN International said that such arms could be utilized if Russia faced an “existential threat”. Russia has the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear warheads.

Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said Moscow’s nuclear remarks were “dangerous”.

“It’s not the way a responsible nuclear power should act,” he told reporters.

However, Kirby added that Pentagon officials “haven’t seen anything that would lead us to conclude that we need to change our strategic deterrent posture”.

“We monitor this as best we can every day,” he said.

Also, Former US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta criticised Peskov’s comments.

“I don’t see how you can see it any other way but as dangerous when Russia is looking for a possible excuse for the use of low-yield nuclear weapons,” Panetta told CNN.

“And basing it frankly on a very false premise that somehow Russia is being threatened. I think that presents a real concern that Russia at least is considering that possibility.

“I don’t know that it’s going to happen. I still think that Putin has to worry about how the US would respond and he has to worry about his own survival.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin assigned his country’s nuclear forces on special alert on 27 February, but Western defence officials said afterwards they had not seen any vital sign of Russia’s strategic bombers, missiles and submarines being mobilised.

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