Russian President Vladimir Putin may have threatened to use a nuclear weapon against the United States this week, said Marshall Billingslea, former Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control at the U.S. State Department, in an interview with Ellie Cohanim on Thursday. 

Putin announced his invasion into Ukraine overnight on Wednesday during a television address. He spoke directly into the camera and threatened: “For those who would be tempted to intervene, Russia will respond immediately and you will have consequences that you never have had before in your history.”

“He seems to be implying something about their nuclear capabilities,” Cohanim suggested. Billingslea, now a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, was inclined to agree. 

“I have been in the room with Vladimir Putin. I will tell you he has dead eyes, dead fish eyes. There’s no soul there,” Billingslea said. “Some of the rhetoric coming out of Vladimir Putin is virtually identical to what we heard from Hitler when he announced the Anschluss [political union of Austria with Germany]. 

“It’s truly staggering the kind of verbiage coming from this dictator,” he continued. “He very much threatened us with a nuclear strike, there’s no doubt about it.”

Billingslea explained that just a few days ago, Putin ordered his Russian nuclear forces into a full-on exercise, testing ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles] and submarine-launched ballistic missiles—missiles that have absolutely zero value in a European context. Those are the missiles that Russia builds to strike us. So, I’d say we got the message loud and clear.”

Cohanim and Billingslea also address:

  • The complete erosion of long-standing national security objectives under U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration
  • The economic consequences of the Russian war against Ukraine
  • The U.S. decision to withdraw its support for the Eastern Mediterranean (EastMed) pipeline
  • Iranian intentions to develop a nuclear weapon 

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