White House Vows Response If Russia Attacks US Satellites; Putin Blames West for Ukraine War

White House Vows Response If Russia Attacks US Satellites; Putin Blames West for Ukraine War
The exterior of the White House on Feb. 6, 2022. (Al Drago/Reuters)

Any response on U.S. infrastructure will be met with a response, the White House said on Thursday after a senior Russian foreign ministry official said Western commercial satellites could become legitimate targets for Russia if they were involved in the war in Ukraine.

White House spokesman John Kirby, speaking to reporters, added that publicly available information shows Russians have been trying to pursue anti-satellite technologies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin showed no regrets on Thursday for his war in Ukraine, insisting that the “special military operation” was still achieving its goals and the West’s dominance over world affairs was coming to an end.

Inveighing against the West for more than three-and-a-half hours in a question-and-answer session at an annual foreign policy conference in Moscow, Putin appeared confident and relaxed.

Asked if there had been any disappointments in the past year, Putin answered simply: “No”, though he also said he always thinks about Russians lost in Ukraine.

Putin accused the West of inciting the war in Ukraine and of playing a “dangerous, bloody, and dirty” game that was sowing chaos across the world.

“The historical period of the West’s undivided dominance over world affairs is coming to an end,” the 70-year-old former KGB spy said. “We are standing at a historical frontier: Ahead is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and, at the same time, important decade since the end of World War Two.”

Nuclear ‘Blackmail’

In his speech, Putin played down a nuclear standoff with the West, insisting Russia had not threatened to use nuclear weapons and had only responded to nuclear “blackmail” from Western leaders. He and other Russian officials have repeatedly said in recent weeks that Russia could use nuclear weapons to protect its territorial integrity, remarks interpreted in the West as implicit threats to use them to defend parts of Ukraine that Russia claims to have annexed. Scores of countries have condemned the move as illegal.

He also repeated Russia’s latest allegation—that Ukraine was planning to use a so-called “dirty bomb” to spread nuclear material, which the United States, Britain, and France have called “transparently false”. Putin said the Ukrainians would carry out such an attack to blame Russia.

A suggestion by Kyiv that the Russian charge might mean Moscow plans to detonate a “dirty bomb” itself was false, he said.

“We don’t need to do that. There would be no sense whatsoever in doing that,” Putin said.

U.S. President Joe Biden expressed skepticism on Thursday about Putin’s comment that he had no intention of using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

“If he has no intention, why does he keep talking about it? Why is he talking about the ability to use a tactical nuclear weapon?” Biden said in an interview with NewsNation.

“He’s been very dangerous in how he’s approached this,” Biden said.

In an interview earlier on CNN, Kirby said it was possible Russia was considering the use of a dirty bomb and was setting up a pretext to blame Ukraine. But he said the United States still had not seen any signs that was necessarily the case.

“They often blame others for that which they are doing themselves or about to do. So that’s why we have to take that seriously,” Kirby said of Putin’s allegations.

“I'll also tell you that we’re not seeing any signs, even today, that the Russians are planning to use a dirty bomb or to even make preparations for that.”