Washington — The U.S. has warned Russia of “catastrophic consequences” if it launches a nuclear attack on Ukraine, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Sunday.
Sullivan, speaking on ABC’s “This Week” show, said U.S. officials have told Russian officials privately that Biden “will respond decisively” if Russian President Vladimir Putin orders a nuclear strike but did not say how the U.S. would respond.
Sullivan said the U.S. would “not engage in a game of rhetorical tit-for-tat” with Russia.
But Sullivan, in a separate interview, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” show that “Russia understands very well what the United States would do in response to the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine because we have spelled it out for them.”
The U.S. response came after Putin signaled the possibility of a nuclear attack last week as he called up 300,000 military reservists to help fight in its seven-month invasion of Ukraine. The troop augmentation came after Russian battlefield setbacks, with Kyiv’s forces recapturing large swaths of territory in northeast Ukraine that Russia had seized in the early weeks of the war.
Widespread protests against Putin’s troop call-up have erupted in Russia, with police arresting hundreds of demonstrators participating in street protests in Moscow and elsewhere.