At the White House press briefing on Wednesday, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby responded to a question from Yahoo News Senior White House Correspondent Alex Nazaryan about Russian propagandists saying that Washington and Berlin should be annihilated because those countries announced they would give tanks to Ukraine to defend against Russia. Kirby reiterated President Biden’s statement from earlier in the day that the tanks pose no threat to Russia.
- I understand that the distinction you're making between offensive weapons and defensive weapons, but the Russians are not seeing that subtlety, or perhaps intentionally, right? They're calling-- one of their propaganda propagandists is calling for the annihilation of Washington, and Berlin, and London, and Paris. Now, I'm just-- that's just indicative of the mood in terms of--
JOHN KIRBY: Because of this announcement?
- Well, because of this announcement and then I think they're quite irked by the German announcement, given the history. So is it possible that they see this as a provocation to escalate? And I heard one of my colleagues ask about tactical nukes-- could this give them a pretext to use those, either on the battlefield, or against the Baltics, or Poland, or elsewhere?
JOHN KIRBY: Propagandists in the Russian media can say what they will. The president put it very plainly today-- these tanks pose no offensive threat to Russia. They do, as I told Phil, pose a threat to Russian soldiers and units that are in Ukraine.
They're very powerful, very capable. And not just the Abrams, but the Leopards that are going to be coming soon too-- very, very powerful. But they don't pose a threat to the Russian homeland. They are designed to help the Ukrainians in what we believe is going to be a need for combined arms operation in the coming-- operations in the coming months.
- The nuke threat specifically, do you see that worsening?
JOHN KIRBY: I would just tell you we don't have any indication that Mr. Putin has any intention to use weapons of mass destruction, let alone nuclear weapons, tactical or otherwise. We monitor as best we can. And we believe that our strategic deterrent posture is appropriate. But we've seen no indication that that's in the offing.