Putin: Russia Not Deploying Nuclear Weapons in Space

Russian president denies recent US claims
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 15, 2024 6:00 PM CST
Updated Feb 21, 2024 2:00 AM CST
Russia's Latest Weapon Is Troubling, White House Says
Republican Rep. Mike Turner speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in 2019.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
UPDATE Feb 21, 2024 2:00 AM CST

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Tuesday that Moscow has no intention of deploying nuclear weapons in space, claiming that the country has only developed space capabilities similar to those of the US, the AP reports. "Our position is quite clear and transparent: we have always been and remain categorically opposed to the deployment of nuclear weapons in space," Putin said. "Just the opposite, we are urging everyone to adhere to all the agreements that exist in this sphere." Putin's defense minister alleged that the US could have made the allegations of a new Russian space capability in order to force Congress to support aid for Ukraine and also encourage Moscow to reenter nuclear arms control talks that Russia has suspended.

Feb 15, 2024 6:00 PM CST

The White House publicly confirmed on Thursday that Russia has obtained a "troubling" emerging anti-satellite weapon but said it cannot directly cause destruction on the planet. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said intelligence officials have information that Russia has obtained the capability but that such a weapon is not operational. US officials are analyzing the emerging technology and have consulted with allies and partners, the AP reports. The capability poses no immediate threat, Kirby said. "We're not talking about a weapon that can be used to attack human beings or cause physical destruction here on Earth," he said.

The White House confirmed its intelligence after a vague warning from the Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Turner, urged the Biden administration to declassify information about what he called a serious national security threat. Kirby said the process of reviewing and declassifying aspects of the Russian capability was underway when Turner "regrettably" released his statement. "We have been very careful and deliberate about what we decide to declassify downgrade and share with the public," he added. Russia has played down US concern. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov described the claims as a ruse intended to make Congress support aid for Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported.

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Kirby said the capability is space based and would violate the international Outer Space Treaty, which more than 130 countries have signed onto, including Russia. He declined to comment on whether the weapon is nuclear capable, per the AP. The White House said it would look to engage Russia directly on the concerns. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan briefed lawmakers Thursday on the threat. "I think the bottom line is that we all came away with a very strong impression that the administration is taking this very seriously and that the administration has a plan in place," Turner said.

(More US-Russia relations stories.)

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