Intelligence report determines that Russia's WMD threats will grow as losses mount in Ukraine

Intelligence report determines that Russia's WMD threats will grow as losses mount in Ukraine
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A new report drafted by the Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Scott Berrier that he submitted to the United States House of Representatives on Thursday concludes that Russian President Vladimir Putin's threats to use nuclear weapons will escalate as his disastrous invasion of Ukraine drags on.

Berrier warned lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee and Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations that if Putin's campaign to capture control of Ukraine continues to go poorly he may feel compelled to up the ante by deploying evermore vicious methods of inflicting damage. For example, intelligence reports have indicated that Putin could stage false-flag biological or chemical attacks on select targets. Berrier noted that this is entirely within the Russian military's tactical capabilities.

"Russia almost certainly maintains biological and chemical weapon programs," Berrier wrote. The Kremlin "only partially acknowledges the former Soviet Union program, maintains its secrecy efforts, and has not provided sufficient evidence that key biological and chemical weapon program activities have been dismantled."

Putin also could turn to his massive atomic arsenal and decide to launch a preemptive first-strike – which Russian military doctrine explicitly permits – if his forces are unable to stave off Ukraine's unexpectedly formidable defenses. While this is unlikely, Putin will almost certainly crescendo his bluster as his desperation grows. Putin put his country's collection of “special combat duty” nukes on high alert last month.

"Protracted occupation of parts of Ukrainian territory threatens to sap Russian military manpower and reduce their modernized weapons arsenal, while consequent economic sanctions will probably throw Russia into prolonged economic depression and diplomatic isolation that will threaten their ability to produce modern precision-guided munitions," Berrier stated. "As this war and its consequences slowly weaken Russian conventional strength, Russia likely will increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength to its internal and external audiences."

Putin's concerns that the West is plotting to overthrow him – even though it is not – constitute an additional dimension of concern.

The 67-page Worldwide Threat Assessment also contains detailed analyses on a variety of topics relating to national and global security, including the impacts of climate change, the odds and risks of another pandemic, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by rogue governments and terrorist organizations.

The full report is available here.

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