Thursday Briefing

President Vladimir Putin of Russia, right, and his defense minister, Sergei Shoigu.Credit…Alexander Kazakov/Sputnik, via Reuters

Russia could put a nuclear weapon into orbit, U.S. warned

U.S. intelligence agencies warned European and Asian allies that if Russia launches a nuclear weapon into orbit, it will probably do so this year — but the country might instead launch a “dummy” warhead to obscure its capabilities.

Putin has made no secret of his interest in upgrading Russia’s nuclear weapon delivery systems, but using a traditional nuclear weapon would likely lead to swift retaliation. A space weapon would target satellites rather than any place on Earth, and Putin might think that using the weapon to destroy satellite communications might prevent nuclear reprisals from the U.S. or allied nations, U.S. analysts said.

According to two senior officials briefed on the intelligence assessment, Putin may believe that the mere threat of massive disruption — even if it meant blowing up Russia’s own satellites — might provide a new kind of deterrent.

More from Russia: A pro-war Russian military blogger died yesterday after he wrote that the country’s military had pressured him to remove a post exposing the scale of Russia’s losses in a recent battle in Ukraine, his lawyer said.

Credit…Emmanuel Polanco

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