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US senator ‘won’t rule out’ nuclear strike against Russia over Ukraine

US Republican Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker has said President Joe Biden should not “rule out first use nuclear action” against Russia over a potential incursion into Ukraine, floating the possibility of nuclear strike against Russia and a ground deployment should the US engage in a conflict over Ukraine.

“I would not rule out military action. I think we start making a mistake when we take options off the table, so I would hope the president keeps that option on the table,” said Wicker about a potential standoff with Russia in an interview with Fox News.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Biden held a video call on 7 December amid a recent deluge of Western media claims that Russian troops are building up near Ukraine’s border for an alleged incursion, a charge Moscow dismisses as “propaganda”.

Sen. Wicker, the number two Republican on the US Senate Armed Services Committee, also tweeted that, “I hope the US will continue to show resolve as Russia masses troops along the Ukraine border. The US and our allies must communicate in strong terms that continued aggression will not be tolerated.”

The Republican senator said he hopes that President Biden would adopt a more tough stance, and keep all options open, emphasizing that there are already around 200 US forces on the ground in Ukraine.

“I would not rule out military action… Military action could mean we stand off with our ships in the Black Sea and we rain destruction on Russian military capability. It could mean that… It could mean we participate. It could mean American troops on the ground.”

Wicker stressed that, “We don’t rule out first use nuclear action… We don’t think it’ll happen, but there are certain things in negotiation, if you’re going to be tough, you don’t take off the table.”

The Russian embassy responded to Wicker’s rhetoric and “irresponsible” statements in a message posted on the embassy’s Facebook site, asking the American senator to reread carefully the joint statement of the presidents of Russia and the United States dated 16 June 2021.

The embassy said the document confirms the adherence of the two countries to the principle that there can be no winners in a nuclear war, stressing that it is inappropriate for an American politician sitting in the legislature to speak with flippancy about use of nuclear weapons.

Wicker’s comments set off widespread condemnation, with critics calling them “insane” and “bloodthirsty”.

Jon Wolfsthal, who served as Joe Biden’s special advisor for nuclear security and as a senior director for arms control and nonproliferation on the US National Security Council, called Wicker’s words “dangerous and irresponsible”.

Emma Ashford from Modern War Institute also tweeted that, “It’s amazing and horrifying how detached from reality a subset of Congress is on foreign policy… in this case, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.”

“The GOP is so bloodthirsty that they are ready to bring WW3 & unleashing nuclear winter on us while denying people their positions to protect us from these very things. This is damn dangerous,” tweeted Russell Foster, a Democratic Candidate for Congress.

Western media’s “Russian invasion of Ukraine” narrative was one of the focal points in Tuesday’s conversation between Biden and Putin.

Regarding the allegedly “threatening” nature of Russian troops’ movement near Ukraine’s border, Putin noted that it was US-led NATO “that was undertaking dangerous attempts to gain a foothold on Ukrainian territory, and building up its military capabilities along the Russian border”.

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