November 2, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu chairs a meeting at the National Defense Control Center in Moscow, Russia, on November 1.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu chairs a meeting at the National Defense Control Center in Moscow, Russia, on November 1. Russian Ministry of Defense/Reuters

Russian military officials have discussed how and under what conditions Russia would use a tactical nuclear weapon on the battlefield in Ukraine, according to a US intelligence assessment that it read to multiple sources. CNN.

The assessment, drawn up by the National Intelligence Council, is not a high-confidence product and is not raw information but analysis, multiple people who have read it told CNN. For that reason, some officials believe that the conversations depicted in the document may have been taken out of context, and do not necessarily indicate that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons.

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The United States has yet to see any signs that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to take the big step of using one, officials said, and Putin is not believed to have been involved in the talks described in the NIC product .

But others within the administration who have viewed the document are concerned because it provides a rare window into conversations between senior Russian generals and shows their intense frustration over Russia’s losses on the battlefield in Ukraine. . That frustration could turn into despair, some officials fear. There are also questions about whether Russia’s self-declared annexation of eastern Ukraine earlier this year means Russia is willing to take tougher measures to defend that territory.

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More context: The United States is also watching Russian actions around the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, which Ukrainian forces are trying to retake from Russian forces during a counteroffensive. In recent weeks, Russian officials have ordered the evacuation of the city, and the United States is concerned that if Ukraine drives the Russians out in a humiliating rout, it could be the kind of trigger that prompts Putin to resort to tactical nukes. It is among the cases envisioned in the intelligence assessment, although officials have pointed out that Kherson is not the only focus for the product.

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The intelligence assessment was first reported by the New York Times. But the internal divisions regarding the quality of intelligence and how to interpret it have not been previously reported.

CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

Read more about this here.

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