National Security Advisor Sullivan Warns of ‘Catastrophic Consequences’ If Russia Uses Nuclear Weapons
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via a video link in Moscow on September 23, 2022. (Photo by GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
(CNSNews.com) – “We can’t predict what happens inside of Russia with Vladimir Putin,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Sunday.
“What we can do is continue to support Ukraine and its right to defend itself, its sovereignty, its territorial integrity,” Sullivan told ABC’s “This Week.”
And if Russian President Vladimir Putin makes good on his threat to use nuclear weapons, Sullivan warned of “catastrophic consequences” for Russia:
“How serious was the nuclear threat that Putin made this week, and how will President Biden respond if he makes good on it?” host George Stephanopoulos asked Sullivan.
“We’re taking it seriously,” Sullivan said.
“It’s not the first time President Putin has made a nuclear threat in this conflict. He started way back in February when Russian takes first rolled across the border brandishing that nuclear card. And that has not deterred us from providing more than $15 billion in weapons to Ukraine, helping them be able to defend their country. And it will not deter us now.
“And we have communicated directly, privately to the Russians, at very high levels, that there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia if they use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. We have been clear with them and emphatic with them that the United States will respond decisively, alongside our allies and partners, and we have protected those communications, which we have done privately to the Russians, but they well understand what they would face if they went down that dark road.”
Stephanopoulos asked if that means “taking the fight directly to Russia,” something the Biden administration has tried to avoid, fighting a proxy war instead:
“We have communicated to the Russians what the consequences would be, but we’ve been careful in how we talk about this publicly because, from our perspective, we want to lay down the principle that there would be catastrophic consequences, but not engage in a game of rhetorical tit for tat,” Sullivan said.
Police officers detain a woman in Moscow on September 24, 2022, following calls to protest against the mobilization of military reservists announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin.(Photo by AFP via Getty Images)
“So, the Russians understand where we are. We understand where we are. We are planning for every contingency. And we will do what is necessary to deter Russia from taking this step. And if they do, we will respond decisively.”
Sullivan said President Biden’s “clear mission” and “focus” is to help Ukraine defend itself. He did not respond to the direct question about getting rid of Putin, although President Biden, speaking in Poland in March, said, ““For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
“Look, again, at the end of the day, the future of Russian politics is going to be dictated, not by Washington, not by anyone in Europe, but by the people inside Russia,” Sullivan said:
“And what you are seeing in the streets right now is a deep unhappiness with what Putin is doing because he has been lying to his people all along.
“He tried to call this some kind of special military operation, when, in fact, it’s a war of conquest. As war, as you heard President Biden say, to extinguish Ukraine’s right to exist as a people. I don’t think that’s very popular in Russia.
“And that’s why young Russian men are not eager to go join the fight. And many of them, in large numbers, are fleeing to the borders, fleeing to the airports, or just outright resisting. That’s not a surprise to us.
“But at the end of it all, we have to keep our focus where we can make the biggest difference. And the biggest difference we can make is to help Ukraine, tangibly, sustainably and effectively. That’s what we’ve been doing. That’s what we’ll continue to do.”