Pentagon chief: Russia ‘modernizing and increasing its nuclear arsenal’

Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin mentioned Russia is “modernizing and increasing its nuclear arsenal” as its invasion of Ukraine continues and Russian President Vladimir Putin has made threats about utilizing nuclear weapons within the battle. 

Austin spoke on Friday at a ceremony for the brand new head of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), Anthony Cotton. The company is accountable for strategic nuclear deterrence, nuclear operations and missile protection. Cotton took over for Charles Richard, who had served within the position since 2019 and retired Friday. 

Austin acknowledged a number of challenges going through STRATCOM within the close to future, together with the increasing Russian nuclear arsenal and Chinese language nuclear forces which can be rising, modernizing and diversifying. 

“And because the Kremlin continues its merciless and unprovoked warfare of selection in opposition to Ukraine, the entire world has seen Putin have interaction in deeply irresponsible nuclear saber-rattling,” he mentioned. 

“So make no mistake. Nuclear powers have a profound duty to keep away from provocative habits, and to decrease the chance of proliferation, and to forestall escalation and nuclear warfare,” he continued. 

Putin this week insisted that Russia’s nuclear arsenal would solely be a “issue of deterrence” within the warfare with Ukraine, however he has repeatedly made threats all through the nine-month warfare which have involved U.S. and different officers worldwide. 

He has mentioned that Russia can be keen to make use of nuclear weapons to defend its territory, however has clarified that features the 4 areas of Ukraine that Russia seized and illegally annexed via illegitimate referendums in September. 

The referendums within the 4 areas — Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — handed overwhelmingly however had been condemned as not free or truthful by a lot of the worldwide neighborhood. 

Putin mentioned in October that Russia doesn’t intend to make use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, however President Biden questioned his intentions, noting that the Russian president repeatedly talks about nuclear weapons. 

Austin mentioned STRATCOM’s purpose is to discourage battle and hold the peace, which he mentioned means a safe, protected and efficient U.S. nuclear arsenal because the “final backstop” in opposition to assaults on the U.S. and its allies. 

“And all of us perceive that nuclear deterrence isn’t only a numbers recreation,” he mentioned. “Actually, that form of pondering can spur a harmful arms race.” 

He mentioned STRATCOM is growing capabilities to forestall battle and combine its talents throughout all domains, together with area and our on-line world. 

Austin mentioned Cotton has had a “great” profession and thanked him prematurely for what he would deliver to the company.