U.S. intelligence officials stated Tuesday that Russia’s nuclear threat is likely to “increase” as Ukraine invades for the second week. This assertion was made Tuesday, as the House Intelligence Committee held a hearing on “worldwide threat”.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) asked Director of National Intelligence Avril Hayes, CIA Director William Burns, and U.S. Army Lieutenant General Scott David Berrier to assess how likely it was for Russian President Vladimir Putin, to activate his nuclear weapons if the United States or NATO allied forces were involved in the conflict in Ukraine.
“Would it not be accurate to say that the threat is increasing is your assessment?” Turner asked. Haines replied, “That the threat is increasing, generally yeah, I think that’s right.”
Burns stated, “I agree that the threat to our security is growing.” “I believe our role is to try and provide intelligence from within the intelligence community into plans, ambitions, pace at which adversaries – China, Russia – can move in these areas. We must not underestimate the ambitions and the speed at which they can move. China and hypersonics are just two examples.
Haines stated that the U.S. hasn’t seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear capabilities that “go beyond the things we have seen in previous moments of heightened tensions over the past few decades.”
The U.S. is currently conducting a review of its nuclear posture to examine its modernization policies and programs, as well as a missile defense review. This review will also consider the potential nuclear threats from Russia, China, and other authoritarian regimes. Turner stated that he believes Putin feels “emboldened” by the modernization of Russia’s nuclear infrastructure. China is also investing in hypersonics and ICBM fields.
Berrier confirmed that he was involved in the study, saying “I do believe the threat is increasing.” “Our job is to provide the best military intelligence possible in relation to these types of weapons, facilities and organizations so that our policy makers can make the right decisions.”
Turner earlier described how Putin had stated that if anyone entered conflict, he would escalate and include nuclear attacks as part his exercises.
The congressman stated that he had included a nuclear weapon component prior to entering Ukraine. “He has been extremely boisterous about modernizing his nuclear weapons and seeking new capabilities, including hypersonic, which they now have.
“Do you believe him?” Turner asked. Turner asked.
Putin stated publicly in February that he would be placing his nuclear system on special alert status. Haines stated that these remarks were “very uncommon” and should be taken seriously.
Haines stated that “we do believe that he is effectively signaling that he’s trying to deter.”
Russia conducted planned nuclear exercises. These were delayed from the fall last month. Haines stated that the timing of the exercise in lockstep to the invasion of Ukraine was meant to “advertise this could escalate” and NATO should not intervene.
Haines stated that “We’re closely watching for movements in relation to these strategic nuclear forces,” “And we are not seeing anything at this stage that suggests he is doing anything different.”
Burns stated that if the United States or NATO were to become directly involved in the conflict with Ukraine, Russian military doctrine states, “You escalate and deescalate.” So he believed “the risk would increase, according to the doctrine.”
Berrier said that Putin’s words should be listened to carefully and that he might believe what he is saying. Berrier stated that Putin has made “very smart” investments in niche weapons, which he believes gives him an “asymmetric advantage”.