Two US officials confirmed to CBS News on Wednesday that senior Russian military officials were discussing how and when to use nuclear weapons on the battlefield in Ukraine in mid-October. The intelligence agency worried US officials because the talks took place not long after Russian President Vladimir Putinindicated that he might resort to nuclear weapons.
At the end of September, Putin warned that he would “certainly use all means at our disposal” to defend Russian territory.
Asked about US intelligence on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed it as “targeted pumping” of nuclear weapons rhetoric.
“We have absolutely no intention of getting involved in this pumping and we consider it very, very irresponsible,” Peskov told reporters in Moscow.
The talks between Russian officials, first reported by the New York Times, were not detailed by US officials, who confirmed the intelligence to CBS News.
In a statement shared with CBS News, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said he “could not comment on the specifics of this reporting,” but said the US “was clear from the start that Russia’s comments about the possible use.” of nuclear weapons are deeply concerning and we take them seriously.”
The conversation within the Russian military came as Moscowthat Ukraine is preparing to use a radioactive “dirty bomb”. Ukraine and its Western partners dismissed the claim as an offer by Russia to create a pretext to blame Ukraine for its own possible use of such a device.
A dirty bomb is a device that uses conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material. They are not generally weapons stockpiled by national armed forces, but are more commonly associated with terrorism. However, their use is hypothetical: a dirty bomb has never been detonated in an attack, but they have been tested. Their size and lethality depend entirely on the strength and amount of radioactive and explosive materials used.
Since information about the unidentified Russians’ talks first came to light, concerns within the US government have subsided, largely because the Russians’ own rhetoric has been scaled back, an American official told CBS News.
Putin is said not to have attended the talks, and Kirby and the US officials, who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity, said there was no evidence Russia had then or now made any preparations to use a nuclear weapon.
Fears that Putin – who makes all final decisions about Russian military deployments and operations – could order the use of any kind of nuclear weapons in Ukraine mounted over the past month as his invading forces suffered a string of defeats and pulled out of a string of villages and towns in regions of eastern Ukraine that Putin has declared Russian territory.
His unilateral annexation of four eastern Ukrainian regions in late September was dismissed as an illegal land grab by the United Nations and much of the world community.
In addition to his battlefield losses, there have also been signs of discontent within Russia over the past month.
As Ukrainian troops advanced, a hastily called military mobilization dispatched hundreds of young Russian menTo avoid serving in Ukraine and hundreds more sent to the front with insufficient training and equipment, high-ranking Russian officials began about the trajectory of Putin’s war.