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Pentagon Chief: Russia 'Modernizing and Expanding Its Nuclear' Capabilities

By    |   Saturday, 10 December 2022 11:59 AM EST

Russia is "modernizing and expanding its nuclear arsenal" as the war in Ukraine continues, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, according to The Hill.

Speaking Friday at a ceremony for the new head of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), Anthony Cotton, Austin mentioned that both Russia and China were expanding their nuclear capabilities.

"And as the Kremlin continues its cruel and unprovoked war of choice against Ukraine, the whole world has seen [Russian President Vladimir] Putin engage in deeply irresponsible nuclear saber-rattling," Austin said.

"So make no mistake. Nuclear powers have a profound responsibility to avoid provocative behavior, and to lower the risk of proliferation, and to prevent escalation and nuclear war," the Pentagon chief added.

But at the time the defense secretary was giving his speech, the British paper The Times released a report detailing that the Pentagon green-lit Ukrainian forces to commit drone strikes inside Russia's territory.

"We're still using the same escalatory calculations but the fear of escalation has changed since the beginning," an anonymous U.S. defense source told The Times. "It's different now. This is because the calculus of war has changed as a result of the suffering and brutality the Ukrainians are being subjected to by the Russians."

Washington's tacit seal of approval marks a new development in the war. Officially, the play is being touted as one where Ukraine acts with autonomy to defend its borders and not one green-lit by the U.S.

"We have neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia," Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said this week.

Despite Blinken's comments, another anonymous defense source said, "We're not saying to Kyiv, 'Don't strike the Russians [in Russia or Crimea]'. We can't tell them what to do. It's up to them how they use their weapons. But when they use the weapons we have supplied, the only thing we insist on is that the Ukrainian military conform to the international laws of war and to the Geneva conventions."

And coming on the heels of a report of Ukraine striking inside Russian territory, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested on Friday that his country abandon its nuclear doctrine of a responsive strike to one of a first, or "preventive," strike.

"In the United States, there is a theory and even practice, they have it in their strategy, in the documents, this is spelled out: a preventive strike. We don't," Putin said at the press conference in a Kremlin-supplied transcript.

"We, in our strategy, have formulated a retaliatory strike."

During his interview, Putin appeared to call the U.S. a "potential adversary" of Russia, adding that it "makes us think" the U.S. would use such a "preventive strike."

The Russian president then added that his country has cruise missiles and "hypersonic systems," which he noted, "so far there are none in the U.S., but we have.

"Therefore, if we are talking about this disarming strike, then perhaps we should think about adopting the achievements of our American partners and their ideas for ensuring our security.

"We're just thinking about it. No one was shy when talking about it out loud in previous times and years. This is the first."

In Austin's speech on Friday, he stated that STRATCOM's aim is to deter conflict and keep the peace. Austin outlined that an effective U.S. nuclear arsenal is the "ultimate backstop" against attacks on the U.S. and its allies.

"And we all understand," Austin added, "that nuclear deterrence isn't just a numbers game. In fact, that sort of thinking can spur a dangerous arms race."

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Russia is "modernizing and expanding its nuclear arsenal" as the war in Ukraine continues, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, according to The Hill.
russia, unitedstates, ukraine, nuclear
Saturday, 10 December 2022 11:59 AM
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