Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday condemned Vladimir Putin’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions, warning there is no one to stop the Russian president from following through on his recent threats of using nuclear weapons.
“To be clear, the guy who makes that decision — I mean, it’s one man. There are no checks on Mr. Putin,” Austin told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “Just as he made the irresponsible decision to invade Ukraine, he could make another decision. But I don’t see anything right now that would lead me to believe that he has made such a decision.”
Facing territorial losses from a Ukrainian counteroffensive primarily in the country’s northeast, Putin last month announced Russia would call up 300,000 reservists to bolster its military effort and threatened the West with nuclear weapons, saying it is “not a bluff.”