National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has kept a secret line of communication open with his Russian counterpart and top aides to Vladimir Putin, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing U.S. and allied officials.
Sullivan, who spearheads President Biden’s national security agenda, has spoken with Nikolai Patrushev and Yuri Ushakov, top advisers to Putin, in an effort to prevent the Kremlin from escalating the war in Ukraine, the WSJ reported.
The conversations covered Russia’s threats to use weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine and served to maintain open communication channels rather than urge a negotiated settlement between Moscow and Kyiv.
“People claim a lot of things,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrian Watson told the outlet. The NSC declined to provide further comment to the DCNF, referring to Watson’s statement provided to the WSJ.
Sullivan has consistently pushed the White House to continue engaging with the Kremlin, contravening other policy makers, the WSJ reported. He made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Friday to promise “unwavering and unflinching” support, according to Reuters.
U.S. officials have encouraged Kyiv to maintain an open posture toward negotiating with Russia, even while acknowledging that the Kremlin is not likely to change its position, the Washington Post reported Friday.
“Anglo-Saxon newspapers have been publishing numerous hoaxes,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, according to the WSJ.
The conversations have occurred since the White House last disclosed communication between Sullivan and Patrushev, who serves as Secretary of the Russian Security Council, a position analogous to Sullivan’s, in March, according to the WSJ.
Sullivan warned Patrushev against escalating the war in Ukraine and threatened consequences for potential use of chemical or biological weapons during the March 16 phone call, according to a White House statement.
Russian threats to launch a nuclear strike on Ukraine grew more intense in recent months. Putin emphasized that his threats to use “all available means to protect Russia and our people” were “not a bluff” in a Sept. 21 speech, Reuters reported.
“Those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them,” Putin said.
In October, Russian officials suggested Ukraine might detonate a “dirty bomb,” or a conventional explosive laced with radioactive materials, and spin it as a Russian attack, according to Reuters.
However, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement Wednesday reiterating a longstanding policy of avoiding nuclear war and confining nuclear weapons use to “defensive” purposes only.
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