Putin Says Russia Has No Intention of Putting Nuclear Weapons in Space, Denying US Claims

Putin Says Russia Has No Intention of Putting Nuclear Weapons in Space, Denying US Claims
Russia's President Vladimir Putin visits the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Plant in Kazan on Feb. 21, 2024. (Kristina Kormilitsyna/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that his country has no intention of expanding a nuclear program in space.

His statements came on Feb. 20, after the White House confirmed last week that Russia has acquired what officials referred to as a “troubling” anti-satellite weapon capability, despite these weapons not yet being operational, according to unconfirmed intelligence reports.

Mr. Putin added that Russia’s space capabilities are similar to those of the United States.

According to White House national security spokesman John Kirby, such an expanded nuclear program would be in violation of the International Outer Space Treaty. Mr Kirby, however, did not offer any additional comment on the weapon’s nuclear capability.

The International Outer Space Treaty was signed by over 130 countries, including Russia. It prohibits the deployment of “nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction” in orbit or the positioning of “weapons in outer space in any other manner.”

The White House said it would address its concerns directly with Russia. However, Mr. Putin asserted Russia’s position on the matter, saying no such programs would be sanctioned by him.

“Our position is quite clear and transparent: we have always been and remain categorically opposed to the deployment of nuclear weapons in space. Just the opposite, we are urging everyone to adhere to all the agreements that exist in this sphere,” Mr. Putin said.

Speaking during a meeting with his defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, Mr. Putin pointed out that any space capabilities developed by Russia are no different than those developed by other nations, including the U.S., adding the United States was fully aware of this.

According to Mr. Shoigu, such allegations by the White House could be motivated by other factors.

“We haven’t deployed any nuclear weapons in space or any elements of them to use against satellites or to create fields where satellites can’t work efficiently,” Mr. Shoigu said.

He went on to say that the allegations by the U.S. of a new Russian space capability could have come with the purpose of forcing Congress to authorize further military aid to Ukraine.

He further alleged that the allegations could serve to encourage Moscow to reenter nuclear arms control talks. Russia had suspended the talks as tensions between the United States and Russia escalated over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Mr. Putin appeared open to future talks with the U.S., saying he would not rule out the possibility of re-establishing contact with Washington. However, he remained steadfast in his view that Washington’s determination to oust Russia from Ukraine is rendering such efforts impossible for the foreseeable future.

Mr. Putin then pointed out the conflicting nature of the U.S.' demands alongside those of its Western allies.

“The U.S. and the West, for one thing, are calling for Russia’s strategic defeat, while, on the other hand, they would like to have a dialogue on strategic stability, pretending that those things aren’t connected. It won’t work,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.