Joint Statement from the Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group Condemning Russian Nuclear Threats

WASHINGTON, DC— Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Representatives Don Beyer (VA-08) and John Garamendi (CA-03), co-chairs of the Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group, today issued the following statement condemning Russian nuclear threats:

“On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his country’s nuclear deterrent forces to be put into an alert status, further intensifying his unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by threatening a nuclear attack.  

“We, the Co-Chairs of the Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group, condemn President Putin’s threats to escalate a conflict of his own creation into nuclear war. His invasion of Ukraine has already resulted in the tragic loss of life, and an escalation to nuclear war would bring untold additional suffering. 

“President Putin should recall what he said in January, along with leaders from the United States, France, China, and the United Kingdom, that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.’

“We applaud the Biden administration for trying to deescalate against such provocative actions and for making clear that America’s own alert status has not changed. It is in the fog of war that there is the greatest risk that a conventional conflict escalates into a nuclear one. That is why it is imperative that the United States, Russia, and all nuclear powers back a No First Use nuclear policy and affirm that the sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter the use of nuclear weapons. The crisis in Ukraine is evidence that there are no plausible military options for direct confrontation between the United States and a nuclear armed adversary – and the folly of investing $1 trillion in unusable new U.S. nuclear capabilities.

“At the same time, as the U.S. works in lockstep with our European allies to rebuff Russian aggression, we must coordinate closely on our nuclear policy as well. The U.S. Department of Defense should also continue its efforts to open military communication channels with Russia, as they have done in other theatres where the Russians are present, so that “red-lines” are not inadvertently crossed.

“President Putin has already made his country a global pariah by launching an unjustified and unprovoked war against Ukraine. His threat to escalate his meritless invasion of Ukraine into nuclear war would cross a line from which our world cannot return. The United States and its allies must do everything in their power to disincentivize this dangerous and costly mistake.

“We continue to stand firmly with the people of Ukraine in this crisis as they fight to preserve their sovereignty and democracy,” the lawmakers said.