US intelligence officials have reportedly told European allies that Russia could launch a nuclear weapon into space and suspend it in orbit as early as this year. However, they said it is even more likely they will launch a false-positive and instill fears in Americans about Russia’s offensive capabilities.

In a series of emergency meetings with NATO officials as well as leaders from Asian countries this week, American leadership revealed what they believe are Russian President Vladimir Putin’s modern warfare strategies–although the analysts are not in agreement on the details, especially regarding when this launch will occur. They are taking it so seriously, though, that Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Indian and Chinese officials that their satellites are at risk of such an attack.

Putin has reportedly denied the accusations, and his Minister of Defense Sergei K. Shoigu claimed the story was “manufactured” to justify more Congressional aid for Ukraine. Russia has always been “categorically against” weapons in space, Shoigu said, citing the 1967 Outer Space Treaty which banned the use of space as a warzone.

“We not only call for the observance of the existing agreements that we have in this area,” Russian state media quoted Shoigu as saying. “But we have proposed many times to strengthen these joint efforts.”

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Such a weapon would not be designed to attack civilian or military targets on Earth, but would instead be attached to a satellite ready to launch at clusters of other satellites, commercial or military, at a moment’s notice. These would include Starlink, SpaceX’s signature Wi-Fi-providing satellite system that is aiding Ukraine in the war, as well as any other spacecraft floating in low-earth orbit.

This follows announcements last week from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that a “serious national security threat” had been detected. In his letter to Congress, Turner said it is in “regard to a destabilizing foreign military capability.” Sullivan expressed frustration with Turner’s decision to go public with the news and repeatedly said he was not in a position to speak in more detail about the matter. In fact, the news this week has only arrived in press channels due to leaks from the NATO meetings.

The suspicions that Russia is planning to launch an orbital nuke arise from investigations launched after Russia was experimenting with secret military satellites in early 2022. Analysts found out they were working on a new kind of weapon, but only in recent weeks have they established a greater degree of certainty that the weapons will have a nuclear nature—which would violate the aforementioned 50-year-old treaty.

Shane Devine is a writer covering politics, economics, and culture for Valuetainment. Follow Shane on X (Twitter).

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