US Congress members condemn Russian nuclear threats and call for no-first-use

President Putin’s nuclear threats, including his placing the Russian nuclear forces on high alert, were condemned yesterday (March 2, 2022) by United States Senators Edward Markey and Jeff Merkley along with House Representatives Don Beyer and John Garamendi, who are co-chairs of the Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group.

We condemn President Putin’s threats to escalate a conflict of his own creation into nuclear war” they said in a joint statement“His invasion of Ukraine has already resulted in the tragic loss of life, and an escalation to nuclear war would bring untold additional suffering.”

The four congress members commended  the Biden administration for trying to de-escalate against such provocative actions, and for making clear that America’s own alert status has not changed. However, they called on the United States, Russia, and all nuclear powers to back a No First Use nuclear policy in order to ensure that the crisis in Ukraine – or any other conflicts involving nuclear armed states – do not escalate into a nuclear war.

“It is in the fog of war that there is the greatest risk that a conventional conflict escalates into a nuclear one. 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.’ “

The joint statement also calls for diplomacy and military-to-military communications during this crisis. “The U.S. Department of Defense should 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.”

At the same time, the U.S. “should continue to work in lockstep with our European allies to rebuff Russian aggression”, say the lawmakers. “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.”

US Capitol building photo: Brandon Bourdages