Sullivan held talks with Putin aides amid nuclear fears: WSJ

Sullivan held talks with Putin aides amid nuclear fears: WSJ

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with top aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid rising tensions between Washington and Moscow in recent weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal.

US officials and allies told the news agency that Sullivan spoke with Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy adviser, as well as Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian Security Council.

It’s unclear how many times Sullivan spoke with officials, but the talks focused on preventing an escalation of war as fears of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons grow, according to the Wall Street Journal.

President Biden spoke with Putin before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, but publicly released communications have largely been limited to military-to-military talks in the months since.

After a series of setbacks in Ukraine, Putin has signaled that he is ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, prompting Biden to warn of nuclear “Armageddon.”

Putin has since said that he will not use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, but top Russian officials will they reportedly discussed when they would have to resort to such tactics.

In September, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US privately relayed messages to the Kremlin to “cease loose talk” about nuclear weapons.

Amid growing calls for peace talks between Moscow and Kiev, the Biden administration has been steadfast in saying that Ukraine should decide when it is time for diplomacy.

However, The Washington Post reported On Saturday, U.S. officials privately encouraged Ukrainian leaders to signal a public willingness to resolve the conflict, to show allies they are working to end the conflict amid rising gas and food prices around the world.

Ukrainian President Voldymir Zelensky has vowed to reclaim all land illegally annexed by Russia, including four recently annexed territories and the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Russia also recently accused Ukraine of preparing to use a “dirty bomb,” or explosive device containing radioactive material.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the “dirty bomb” claims, which the US has rejected and warned could be a pretext for a Russian attack.

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