Russian President Vladimir Putin's nuclear threats have raised concerns that his plans for escalation in Ukraine may not be limited to mobilizing more troops.
The Pentagon responded on Tuesday to the potential threat by saying the United States is completely prepared to deal with a nuclear scenario with Russia.
What Happened: Patrick Ryder, the press secretary for the Pentagon, fielded inquiries from the media at a briefing on Tuesday.
Ryder was questioned about whether the United States was prepared to handle a nuclear conflict with Russia given that Putin has never officially ruled out using nuclear weapons.
“What reassurance can the Pentagon give the American people that it is completely ready to deal with a nuclear scenario from Russia,” one attendee at the press briefing asked.
“We are completely ready, I’ll tell you that,” Ryder said in response. “In the meantime, we have not seen anything that would indicate that Russia has made a decision to employ nuclear weapons — we are on stand to watch 24/7 and would be prepared if we had to respond.”
Why It Matters: Putin has made ominous threats against the West in the past, but his cryptic statements in a speech to Russia in late September suggested that he was prepared to increase the risk of nuclear war in order to prevent military defeat.
Without going into further detail, the Russian leader said the United States and its allies had engaged in "nuclear blackmail" by making assertions about the potential deployment of "nuclear weapons of mass devastation against Russia.
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” Putin said, in a reference to Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
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