Top Russian military brass held talks on when and how the Kremlin might use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, multiple US outlets reported, causing consternation amongst Kyiv’s western allies.
It is unclear whether Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in the discussions.
Washington has “grown increasingly concerned” about a potential Russian nuclear strike on Ukraine, the White House stated.
“We still have not seen any indication that the Russians are making preparations for such use… But this is all deeply concerning to us,” spokesman for the National Security Council John Kirby said on Wednesday.
“We have grown increasingly concerned about the potential as these months have gone on,” Kirby added.
Putin recently denied having any intentions of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine but described the conflict there as part of alleged efforts by the West to secure its global domination, which he insisted are doomed to fail.
Speaking in late October at the Valdai discussion club meeting — a state-funded conference of international foreign policy experts — Putin said it is pointless for Russia to strike Ukraine with nuclear weapons.
Putin said an earlier warning of his readiness to use “all means available to protect Russia” did not amount to nuclear sabre-rattling but was merely a response to Western statements about their possible use of nuclear weapons.
“We have maintained, I believe, an appropriate level of concern about the potential use of weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine to include nuclear weapons,” Kirby told reporters
In recent weeks, Moscow has amped up its claims that Kyiv is preparing a nuclear “dirty bomb” attack, with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said to have made calls to his western counterparts to discuss the issue.
The move was widely seen by analysts as a possible means of distraction while the Kremlin prepared its own false flag operation.
Claims that Russian troops were conducting “secret construction” at the Zaporizhzhia power plant in Ukraine — Europe’s largest atomic energy facility — further exacerbated fears of nuclear foul play.
Moscow and Washington continue to trade barbs over alleged bio weapons
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council overwhelmingly rejected Russia’s attempt to establish a commission to investigate its unfounded claims that Ukraine and the US are carrying out “military biological” activities that violate the convention prohibiting biological weapons.
Russia only got support from China in the Wednesday vote on its resolution, with France, the UK and the US voting “no” and the 10 other council nations abstaining.
The 2-3-10 vote reflected the council’s continuing opposition and scepticism about Russia’s actions since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.
The council has been paralyzed from taking any action against Russia’s military offensive because of Russia’s veto power.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzya accused Washington of conducting work in Ukraine with deadly pathogens — including cholera, plague, anthrax and influenza — that could not be justified under the guise of public health.
He said documents and evidence recovered by Russian authorities suggested a military application.
His US counterpart Linda Thomas-Greenfield responded that Russia’s claims are “absurd for many reasons, including because such species, even if they could be weaponised, would pose as much a threat to the European continent and Ukraine itself as they would to any other country.”
Russia’s initial allegation of secret American biological warfare labs in Ukraine in March has been disputed by independent scientists, Ukrainian leaders and officials at the White House and Pentagon.
Ukraine does have a network of biological labs that have gotten funding and research support from the US.
They are owned and operated by Ukraine and are part of an initiative called the Biological Threat Reduction Program that aims to reduce the likelihood of deadly outbreaks, whether natural or manmade.
The US efforts date back to work in the 1990s to dismantle the former Soviet Union’s program for weapons of mass destruction.
However, the Kremlin’s unfounded claims of biological weapons being developed in Ukraine — used as one of the pretexts for the invasion — have taken root online with various conspiracy theory groups, including QAnon.