CIA Chief Responds to Putin’s Alleged Nuclear Threat

By Jack Phillips

William Burns, then nominee for CIA director, testifies during his confirmation hearing, in Washington, on Feb. 24, 2021. (Tom Williams/Pool via AP)

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) weighed in on recent warnings made by Russian officials regarding the use of nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict.

“We have to take very seriously [any] kind of threats, given everything that’s at stake,” CIA Director William Burns told CBS News this week.

But Burns noted that “we don’t see any practical evidence today in the U.S. intelligence community that [Moscow] is moving closer to actual use” of nuclear weapons. There is also no “imminent threat of using tactical nuclear weapons” in the months-long Ukraine war, he added.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested in a speech that all weapons in Russia’s arsenal could be used if Russia’s territory is threatened.

While Putin did not specifically call for using nukes, other Russian authorities have been more explicit, including former President Dmitry Medvedev and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

What Was Said

“If the territorial integrity of our nation is threatened, we will certainly use all the means that we have to defend Russia and our people. It’s not a bluff,” Putin said in an address several weeks ago, coming before residents of four disputed Ukrainian regions voted in a referendum to join the Russian Federation.

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