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15 Feb, 2024 14:00

Kremlin responds to claims Russia planning nukes in space

Several US media outlets have claimed that Moscow wants to put a nuclear anti-satellite system into orbit
Kremlin responds to claims Russia planning nukes in space

Western media reports claiming that Russia could place nuclear weapons in space are nothing more than a ploy by the White House to convince US lawmakers to approve further military aid to Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.

Citing anonymous sources, several US media outlets reported this week that American intelligence had obtained information on purported Russian plans to deploy a nuclear anti-satellite system in Earth orbit, although the idea supposedly remains at the developmental stage. ABC News claimed that while the system would not be used to attack targets on Earth, US officials still consider it “very concerning and very sensitive.” 

Responding on Thursday, Peskov suggested that the administration of US President Joe Biden is using the issue to force a vote to approve Ukraine aid. Moscow, however, will wait and see what comes from an upcoming White House briefing on the topic, Peskov added.

“It’s clear that the White House is trying, by hook or by crook, to push Congress to vote on a bill to approve funding [for Ukraine]. We’ll see what tricks the White House will use,” he said.

Nuclear weapons are banned under the Outer Space Treaty, which was opened for signature by the US, Soviet Union, and the UK in 1967, as Moscow and Washington sought to ease tensions during the Cold War. More than 100 countries have since joined the treaty.

On Wednesday, Republican congressman Mike Turner, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, claimed to have shared information “concerning a serious national security threat” with US lawmakers, while urging Biden to declassify the relevant materials.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is scheduled to brief congressional leaders on security issues on Thursday. When pressed on whether he would address Turner’s concerns, he declined to respond, noting he was “surprised” by the statement, given the upcoming meeting on the matter.

His comments came after the New York Times suggested, citing sources, that Turner – whom it described as the administration’s ally on Ukraine aid – had pushed the nuclear issue into the spotlight, to “perhaps to create pressure” on lawmakers to approve $60 billion in supplemental funding for Kiev.

The Biden administration has been urging Congress to approve more aid for Ukraine since the autumn. Its efforts have been met with opposition from Republicans, who have demanded that the White House do more to improve security on the southern US border in return.