The United States’ reactionary moves to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine suggest that it does not have an adequate plan in place to respond if Russian President Vladimir Putin decides to use a nuclear weapon, a former U.S. intelligence officer told Fox News.
Rebekah Koffler, a former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency agent and author of "Putin's Playbook: Russia's Secret Plan to Defeat America," explained to Fox News that while the U.S. certainly has a strategic plan in place if Putin uses a nuclear weapon, recent responses to Russia’s aggression instill little confidence that the United States is doing the necessary preparation for such an outcome.
Koffler said that "the fact that we have not responded in a methodical manner to any of Putin’s actions nor have we deterred any of his actions" is reason to be concerned that the United States does not have a coherent plan to respond to a potential nuclear attack.
"Judging by our overall response and that we put all our eggs in one basket with sanctions and we were caught off guard regardless of the fact Putin never made it a secret what he was going to do yet we are grasping at straws," Kofffler said. "Given that, it doesn’t seem that we are prepared for the possibility of him using nuclear weapons."
"The minute that Putin said he changed the combat readiness status we didn’t say anything," Koffler said. "This whole confusion seems like a haphazard approach on our side."
Koffler says that the United States should be very active in putting together a contingency plan and establishing back channels to prevent Putin from de-escalating the war through escalation, a strategy Putin has developed over his years in power.
As far as the likelihood that Putin would resort to using a nuclear weapon, Koffler says that Putin is capable of making such a drastic decision.
"He has high risk tolerance," Koffler said of Putin. "I believe that it is within his frame of mind."
Russia claimed on Saturday that it deployed a hypersonic missile that destroyed a munitions warehouse in Ukraine, which Koffler said is part of a strategic plan Putin is using to show the world he has a "high tolerance for warfare."
"It's a game-changer in the geopolitical realm, not unlike in the military realm, because they're trying to [send a] strategic message," she said. "In my assessment, [Putin] is climbing small steps in the escalation ladder on the trajectory to nuclear warfare."
"We are so focused on thinking that it's so crazy and outside the realm of possibility," Koffler said about the potential use of a nuclear weapon. "But think about all the crazy things he has already done. "He invaded Crimea. He is now attacking Ukraine in the most brutal manner possible."
Koffler explained that the nuclear option isn’t necessarily one of the next steps Putin will take but that it can’t be "ruled out" because the further you "drive Putin into the corner" the more the "probability increases because he has everything at stake right now."