Putin Is 'Acute' Nuclear Threat to U.S. Homeland: Pentagon

Vladimir Putin and Russia are viewed by the Pentagon as an "acute" threat based on the Ukrainian invasion and escalated threats of nuclear warfare.

The Department of Defense (DoD) used the term "acute" 10 times in total, with most of those related to discussions of Russia, in Thursday's publication of the 80-page, congressionally mandated 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) report regarding the United States' national security policies.

While the People's Republic of China (PRC) is acknowledged as posing a "pacing challenge" to the U.S., Russia's actions are viewed as more urgent.

"Contemptuous of its neighbors' independence, Russia's government seeks to use force to impose border changes and to reimpose an imperial sphere of influence," the report said. "Its extensive track record of territorial aggression includes the escalation of its brutal, unprovoked war against Ukraine."

"Russia presents the most acute example of [potentially escalating to nuclear employment] given its significantly larger stockpile of regional nuclear systems and the possibility it would use these forces to try to win a war on its periphery or avoid defeat if it was in danger of losing a conventional war," the report added.

Lloyd Austin Nuclear Threats Russia NATO
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin holds a media briefing at the Pentagon on October 27 in Arlington, Virginia. Austin outlined the recently published 2022 National Defense Strategy report and spoke about Russian and Chinese aggression. Russia was repeatedly described as an "acute" threat in the report. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Joe Biden recently warned Russia that provocations regarding the use of nuclear weapons are a "serious mistake."

Aside from nuclear threats, the U.S. is wary of Russia's long-range cruise missiles, cyber and information operations, chemical and biological weapons, underwater warfare and "gray zone" campaigns targeted against democracies.

A multitude of challenges exist now and will for the next two decades, the Pentagon said, including "strategic challenges stemming from complex interactions between a rapidly changing global balance of military capabilities" in addition to emerging technologies and new threats to the U.S. due to "competitor doctrines."

"These rapidly evolving features of the security environment threaten to erode the United States' ability to deter aggression and to help maintain favorable balances of power in critical regions," the Pentagon said in a statement. "The PRC presents the most consequential and systemic challenge, while Russia poses acute threats—both to vital U.S. national interests abroad and to the homeland."

Austin said in a statement that changes in geopolitics, technology, economics and the environment "will set the Department's course for decades to come."

"We live in turbulent times," Austin said. "Yet, I am confident that the Department, along with our counterparts throughout the U.S. government and our allies and partners around the world, is well positioned to meet the challenges of this decisive decade."

Newsweek reached out to the Pentagon for comment.