National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told Newsmax on Wednesday that the U.S. hasn't seen "any indication" that Russian President Vladimir Putin "has made a decision to use nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction."
"President [Joe] Biden has been very clear-eyed and, I think, extraordinarily candid about the continued threat that Russia poses, certainly in the near term to the international world order," Kirby said during an appearance on Newsmax's "The Record With Greta Van Susteren." "As a matter of fact, we unveiled our new national security strategy today; and it lays it out pretty clearly the kind of threat in the immediate future that we see coming from Russia. And the president was clear in that interview that he's not taking anything at face value here.
"We continue to monitor, as best we can, Russia's nuclear capabilities and what they're doing. And we just haven't seen any indication that Mr. Putin has made a decision to use nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction," Kirby continued. "We haven't seen any indication that his army is preparing for that kind of a decision, and we haven't seen anything that would make us change our own strategic nuclear-deterrent posture."
In recent days, Putin has renewed his nuclear saber-rattling, threatening to unleash some of the estimated 2,000 "tactical nuclear weapons" that Russia has stockpiled for battlefield use. According to the Los Angeles Times, some of these "low-yield" nuclear weapons are as powerful as the bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945, killing at least 70,000.
According to Kirby, "the stakes" are currently high because of the losses Russia has incurred on the battlefield, as well as Moscow's recent mobilization effort to try to get more Russian troops into the fight. Tensions are also running higher because of the Kremlin's sham referendums and annexations of Ukrainian territory.
"Every nation is contributing what they can" to help shore up Ukraine, collaborating through the Ukraine Defense Contact Group organized by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Kirby said.
"It's not just about NATO," he said. "Literally there are nations from the Indo-Pacific region that attend these meetings. We understand that these are sovereign decisions that every nation has to make, and nations have been increasing their contributions over time and changing and evolving what they're willing to provide Ukraine based on the battlefield conditions and what Ukraine is facing."
In addition to making decisions about their "commitment to Ukraine," contact group countries also need to make decisions about "their own national security and making sure they can still protect themselves and their citizens."
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