White House confirms reports of Russia’s ‘troubling’ anti-satellite weapon capability | CBC News

White House confirms reports of Russia's 'troubling' anti-satellite weapon capability | CBC News

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The White House publicly confirmed on Thursday that Russia has obtained a “troubling” emerging anti-satellite weapon but said it cannot directly cause “physical destruction” on Earth.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said U.S. intelligence officials have information that Russia has obtained the capability, but that such a 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.  A senior source with direct knowledge of the briefing confirmed to CBC News that Canada was among the allies briefed by the U.S. on the issue.

“First, this is not an active capability that’s been deployed, and though Russia’s pursuit of this particular capability is troubling, there is no immediate threat to anyone’s safety,” Kirby said.

“We’re not talking about a weapon that can be used to 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 national security threat.

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

“We have been very careful and deliberate about what we decide to declassify, downgrade and share with the public,” Kirby said.

WATCH | White House says Russia’s weapon capability poses no immediate threat to safety: 

White House confirms Russian anti-satellite weapon capability

The White House has confirmed that Russia has obtained a space-based anti-satellite weapon but says it hasn’t been deployed. Officials from Washington to Ottawa say that while the details raise concerns, there’s no cause for panic, which has some Republicans questioning the timing of the information’s release.

Russia has downplayed the U.S. concern about the capability.

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov described the claims about a new Russian military capability as a ruse intended to make the U.S. Congress support aid for Ukraine.

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

White House frustrated with disclosure

The capability is space based and would violate an international space treaty, to which more than 130 countries have signed onto, including Russia.

The White House said it would look to engage the Russians directly on the concerns.

Even as the White House sought to assure Americans, Kirby acknowledged it was a serious matter.

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

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

WATCH | Defence minister says best for U.S. to comment on Russia weapon intelligence: 

Defence minister expects more details from U.S. on emerging threat from Russia

Defence Minister Bill Blair, speaking to Power & Politics from Brussels, said he expects ‘additional clarification’ from his U.S. counterparts about reports of an emerging security threat from Russia, adding it’s best to leave it to the U.S. to comment on their intelligence.

U.S. previously aware of weapon development

White House officials said U.S. intelligence officials have concerns about a broad declassification of the intelligence.

The U.S. has been aware of Russia’s pursuit of anti-satellite capability going back at least months, if not a few years.

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

Such efforts have been focused on highlighting plans for Russian misinformation operations or to throw attention on Moscow’s difficulties in prosecuting its war against Ukraine as well as its coordination with Iran and North Korea to supply it with badly needed weaponry.

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

“We agree with that, which is consistent, of course, with the manner in which we have conducted downgrades of inflammation in the past,” Kirby said.

“This administration has put a lot of focus on doing that in a strategic way, a deliberate way. And in particular, when it comes to Russia.”

WATCHForensics experts claim Russia attacked Kyiv with a Zircon hypersonic missile: 

Russia escalating air attacks as Ukraine faces roadblocks in military aid in 2024

U.S. and EU aid packages for Ukraine remain stalled as Kyiv pleads for more air defence capacity to deal with escalating Russian air attacks. Power & Politics speaks with Andriy Shevchenko, former Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, and Roman Waschuk, former Canadian ambassador to Ukraine.

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