Russian President Vladimir Putin's attempt at "playing the nuclear card" in his national address earlier Wednesday along with his order for a partial mobilization was an act of weakness, a senior US administration official said Wednesday.
“Declaring a mobilization, and then refining the declaration of mobilization to try to have it both ways — on the one hand, indicating you're calling a bunch of people up, and on the other hand, saying we're not calling too many people up — that also indicates a very pressurized environment in Russia,” the official said. “And the fact that he has to resort to something he clearly didn't want to do is a reflection of the fact that his campaign in Ukraine is failing.”
The official said the US does not see any signs that indicate a heightened nuclear threat from Russia, despite Putin’s rhetoric.
“We have heard him before, wave around the nuclear card, and we heard it again in his speech today, and in fact, the language and formula he used today is quite similar to how he's spoken before,” the official said.
Still, President Biden and other US officials remain on alert for potential escalation as the conflict in Ukraine grinds ahead.
“We are watching carefully to see for any signs of potential escalation, and we are sending very clear and strong messages to Russia about the consequences of escalation,” the official said.