The world is becoming more and more aware of the struggle that Russia is having with its invasion of Ukraine. The United States has now warned Moscow about the “catastrophic consequences” there would be if it decides to use a nuclear weapon against Kyiv, according to the White House national security adviser.
Jake Sullivan was interviewed on ABC’s “This Week.” The anchor, George Stephanopoulos, focused on the protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization of 300,000 reservists. He also drew attention to what Sullivan called the “sham” annexation referendums in Russian-controlled parts of Ukraine.
Sullivan said that what they are seeing from Russia is not a sign of their strength or confidence. But they are signs that Russia and Putin are struggling very badly. He also noted that because of Putin’s autocratic hold on the country, it was hard to make clear assessments from the outside.
“It will be the Russian people, ultimately, who make the determination about how Russia proceeds and the extent to which that there is resistance and pushback to what Vladimir Putin has tried to do, calling up these hundreds of thousands of young men,” Sullivan noted.
Stephanopoulos asked Sullivan if he wanted Russia to rise and replace Putin.
People of Russia Unhappy With Putin
Sullivan said that the future of Russian politics is going to be dictated by the people inside of Russia, not America or Europe. And what we are seeing on the streets in Russia right now is deep-seated unhappiness with what Putin is doing.
This discussion from the national security adviser is happing while there is escalating rhetoric from Putin while he is watching his forces cede massive areas of northeast Ukraine. His army also retreated from the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Last week the Russian president called up reservists and suggested that tactical nuclear weapons could be used to shift the course of the war. He also accused the West of threatening Russia’s territorial integrity. Putin has continued to frame his attack on Ukraine as necessary for Russian national security.
“The territorial integrity of our homeland, our independence and freedom will be ensured, I will emphasize this again, with all the means at our disposal. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing winds can turn in their direction,” Putin said in a speech last week.
He also said that Russia has various means of destruction including some that are more modern than those in other NATO countries.
While on “This Week,” Sullivan did not explain exactly what warnings have been communicated between Putin and the White House administration. He just repeated that there would be dire repercussions if a nuclear weapon was used.
“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,” Sullivan said.
Stephanopoulos then asked if that means we would take the fight directly to Russia.
Sullivan responded that we have been very careful how the administration talks publicly but they are laying down the principle that there would be “catastrophic consequences” but not talk specifically about the back-and-forth tactics.
Stephanopoulos also wanted to know from Sullivan if protests in Iran over the death of a woman who did not keep the country’s strict female dress code enough to topple the government in Tehran.
Sullivan said that the United States did not have a great track record of predicting when protests turn into real political change.
Stephanopoulos then questioned whether these actions should cause us to slow down talks about reviving the Obama-era nuclear deal that President Donald Trump scrapped.
Sullivan said that the administration was not going to slow down one inch, and the nuclear talks did not hinder them from speaking out on behalf of the people of Iran.