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Bloomberg: US tells allies Russia may deploy nuclear anti-satellite weapon into space this year

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 21, 2024 9:52 AM 2 min read
Vladimir Putin at the 4th Congress of Russian Railway Workers, on Dec. 15, 2023, in Moscow, Russia. (Contributor/Getty Images)
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The U.S. has told allies that Moscow could deploy a nuclear anti-satellite weapon or a mock warhead into space as early as this year, Bloomberg reported on Feb. 20, citing unnamed people familiar with the issue.

Russia is purportedly developing a space-based capability to disable satellites using a nuclear weapon, the sources said. A nuclear warhead in space would be a direct violation of an arms treaty that all nuclear-armed states, including Russia, are party to.

The report follows the U.S. House Intelligence Committee's warning of a "serious" but unspecified security threat from Russia. Reports then followed that the threat relates to Russia's desire to "put a nuclear weapon into space."

The Kremlin refuted the warning, saying it was a "malicious fabrication."

U.S. President Joe Biden later said that Moscow was indeed developing an anti-satellite space weapon, but it didn’t endanger people on Earth, adding that there has not yet been a decision to launch the weapon into space.

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Washington’s current assessment is that Russia doesn’t plan to detonate any orbital weapon, but there is a risk of an accident if a nuclear weapon is deployed into space, the sources told Bloomberg.

A nuclear explosion could potentially affect about a third of satellites and damage communication systems on Earth, they said.

The U.S. and its allies are trying to dissuade Russia from deploying the capability through China and India, which are deemed to have more influence on the Kremlin, according to the people.

Moscow has repeatedly resorted to nuclear saber-rattling throughout the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, threatened on Feb. 18 to use nuclear weapons against the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Ukraine if Moscow loses all occupied Ukrainian territories.

Critics say such statements are bluff rather than Russia's genuine plans and are intended to scare the West into making concessions.

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