Russia has an anti-satellite weapon… and the US is worried

The White House publicly confirmed this Thursday that Russia has obtained a “worrying” emerging anti-satellite weaponbut he said that it cannot directly cause “physical destruction” on Earth.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said U.S. intelligence officials have information that Russia has obtained the capability, but that weapon is not currently operational. U.S. officials are analyzing the information they have on the emerging technology and have consulted with allies and partners on the matter.

“First of all, this is not an active capability that has been deployed and, Although Russia’s pursuit of this particular capability is concerning, there is no immediate threat for anyone’s safety,” Kirby said. “We are not talking about a weapon that can be used to attack human beings or cause physical destruction here on Earth.”

The White House confirmed its intelligence after a vague warning Wednesday from the Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee, Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, urged the Biden administration to declassify information about what he called a serious threat to national security.

Kirby said the process of reviewing and declassifying aspects of Russian capabilities was underway when Turner “regrettably” released his statement.

“We have been very careful and deliberate about what we decided to declassify, downgrade and share with the public,” he added.

Russia has downplayed U.S. concerns about capacity.

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described claims about a new Russian military capability as a ruse aimed at getting the U.S. Congress to support aid to Ukraine.

“It is obvious that Washington is trying to force Congress to vote on the relief bill by hook or by crook,” Peskov said in statements carried by Russian news agencies. “Let’s see what trick the White House will use.”

What is this new anti-satellite weapon capable of?

Kirby said the capability is space-based and would violate the International Outer Space Treaty, to which more than 130 countries have joined, including Russia. He declined to comment on whether the weapon is nuclear capable. The treaty prohibits the deployment of “nuclear weapons or any other type of weapons of mass destruction” in orbit or “stationing weapons in outer space in any other manner.”

The White House said it would seek to involve the Russians directly in the concerns. Although the White House tried to reassure Americans, Kirby acknowledged that this was a serious matter.

“I don’t want to minimize the potential for disruption,” Kirby said.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan was scheduled to brief lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Thursday about the Russian threat.

The White House made no secret of its frustration with the way Turner shared his concerns about the threat.

“We make decisions about how and when to publicly disclose intelligence in a careful, deliberate and strategic manner, in ways we choose,” Kirby said.

“We are not going to be eliminated from that process, regardless of what, in this particular case, has come into the public domain,” he added. “I can assure you that we will continue to keep members of Congress, as well as our international partners and all of you and the American people, as informed as possible.”

White House officials said U.S. intelligence officials are concerned about a broad declassification of intelligence. The United States has been aware of Russia’s pursuit of anti-satellite capability for at least months, if not a few years. Biden has been regularly briefed by his national security team on the issue, including on Thursday.

The United States has frequently downgraded and disclosed intelligence findings about Moscow’s plans and operations over the course of its nearly two-year war with Ukraine.

Such efforts have focused on highlighting plans for Russian disinformation operations or drawing attention to Moscow’s difficulties in carrying out its war against Ukraine, as well as its coordination with Iran and North Korea to supply it with much-needed weapons. .

Intelligence officials assessed that starting with a private engagement on the Russian anti-satellite threat might have been a more effective approach, Kirby said.

“We agree with that, which is consistent, of course, with the way we have conducted inflammation reductions in the past,” Kirby said. “This administration has been very focused on doing that in a strategic way, in a deliberate way. And, in particular, when it comes to Russia.”