Senior Russian military leaders reportedly discussed using tactical nukes as losses in Ukraine mount

Vladimir Putin
(Image credit: Alexei Babushkin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

Senior Russian military leaders recently had discussions on when and how the Kremlin might use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, The New York Times reported early Wednesday, citing multiple senior U.S. officials. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the only one in Russia who could order a nuclear attack, was not part of the discussions.

The intelligence about the discussions, which circulated within the U.S. government in mid-October, did not change the prevailing assessment that Russia is not taking steps to actually use a tactical nuke or "dirty bomb" in Ukraine, the Times reports. The fact that these senior Russian officials were even discussing the option, however, "alarmed the Biden administration because it showed how frustrated Russian generals were about their failures on the ground" and suggests "Putin's veiled threats to use nuclear weapons might not just be words."

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