Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via a video link in Moscow on September 23, 2022


  • Burns said the U.S. intelligence community has not seen evidence of Russia preparing to use nuclear weapons
  • Burns said the U.S. is still watching Russia for any signs of preparation
  • Former CIA officer Baer said the risk of Putin using nuclear weapons is increasing by the day

CIA Director William Burns said the agency has yet to see any evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin is moving close to deploying nuclear weapons but added that it is "very hard to say" whether Putin is bluffing.

Speaking in an exclusive interview on "CBS Evening News" aired Tuesday, Burns noted that the CIA is taking Putin's threats of using nuclear weapons in the Ukraine war seriously despite the lack of evidence of actual preparation.

"Well, we have to take very seriously his kind of threats given everything that's at stake ... We don't see any practical evidence today in the U.S. intelligence community that he's moving closer to actual use, that there's an imminent threat of using tactical weapons," Burns said when asked whether there were signs pointing to Putin preparing to deploy nuclear weapons.

Burns was later asked whether he thought Putin was bluffing when he threatened to use nuclear weapons "if the territorial integrity of our country is threatened." In response, the CIA director said it was "very hard to say at this point," but they will still watch Russia for any signs of preparations.

Burns' interview follows former CIA case officer Robert Baer's statement on Tuesday that he believes the chances of Putin turning to nuclear weapons are increasing as Ukraine continues to gain grounds amid their counteroffensive operations. In Kharkiv, for example, only 6% of the territory is occupied by Russian forces, according to the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Defense Ministry.

"The chances of his using nuclear weapons — at least tactical nuclear weapons — is going up by the day," Baer told CNN.

In addition to using nuclear weapons, Baer said Putin is unlikely to withdraw his troops or negotiate with Ukraine to end the war.

Burns' and Baer's comments come days after Putin announced the partial mobilization of about 300,000 reservists to bolster Moscow's troops in Ukraine. During the announcement, Putin also threatened to use "all available means" in Ukraine, baselessly accusing the West of provoking him with nuclear blackmail.

Russia has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia has nearly 6,000 nuclear warheads, 1,500 of which are deployed.

Putin Announces Partial Mobilization Of Roughly 300,000 In Russian Reserve
Putin Announces Partial Mobilization Of Roughly 300,000 In Russian Reserve