Retired Admiral Mike Mullen said Sunday that the United States must consider the possibility that Russia could launch a nuclear strike as the war in Ukraine continues.
“It’s very difficult to know what [President Vladimir] Putin is thinking at any particular time. He’s obviously spoken to this. I think we need to make sure that we consider it as a possibility,” Mullen told host Martha Raddatz during an interview on ABC‘s This Week.
The retired admiral added that he hopes deterring the use of nuclear weapons works, saying that “they’re the most devastating weapons ever created on Earth.”
Mullen, who also served as the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair under former President Barack Obama, noted that nuclear weapons were “devastating” when they were used in the 1940s, and therefore efforts should be made to “make sure that they don’t get used.”
“They [nuclear weapons] are a part of Putin’s arsenal. He’s pretty well cornered and boxed in,” he said.
Although Putin hasn’t explicitly said that Russia will launch a nuclear attack, some officials warned that it’s necessary to be prepared for any possible strike.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah noted Saturday that given Putin’s “illogical” actions, it is important to be ready to face any potential nuclear attacks.
“By invading Ukraine, Mr. Putin has already proved that he is capable of illogical and self-defeating decisions,” Romney said in an op-ed in The New York Times. “If he loses in Ukraine, he not only will have failed to achieve his life’s ambition to reverse what he sees as the ‘greatest geopolitical catastrophe’ of the 20th century—the collapse of the Soviet Union—but he will also have permanently diminished Russia as a great power and reinvigorated its adversaries.”
Russia has a military doctrine that outlines certain conditions in which the country is allowed to use nuclear weapons, according to Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko.
Those conditions include Russia using nuclear weapons when its enemies are also using those or other weapons that cause mass destruction on Russian territories and/or its allies. Russia is also allowed to use nuclear weapons if the country’s critical government or military sites are attacked by the enemy in a way that would underestimate a nuclear force response actions.
Newsweek reached out to the Russian foreign affairs ministry for comment.