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Thursday Briefing: U.S. Warnings About a Russian Space Weapon

WorldThursday Briefing: U.S. Warnings About a Russian Space Weapon

U.S. intelligence agencies have told their closest European allies that if Russia is going to launch a nuclear weapon into orbit, it will probably do so this year. But, they warned, it might instead launch a harmless “dummy” warhead to leave the West guessing about its capabilities.

The assessment came amid a U.S. intelligence scramble: Officials have been conducting a series of rushed, classified briefings for their NATO and Asian allies, as details began to leak out. But U.S. intelligence agencies are divided, and officials have low confidence in their analysis of whether Russia is ready to launch such a space weapon.

The consequences of such a weapon are clearer. It could disrupt communications by destroying the commercial and military satellites that have reshaped global communications capabilities.

Response: President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow was “categorically against” placing nuclear weapons in space. The Russian defense minister said the warning was manufactured to get Congress to authorize more aid for Ukraine.


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