For the past several months, President Joe Biden's top national-security adviser has been speaking with his counterparts in Russia in an ongoing attempt to de-escalate the nuclear threats by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan has been speaking with his counterpart in the Russian government, Nikolai Patrushev, said officials.
"The aim has been to guard against the risk of escalation and keep communications channels open, and not to discuss a settlement of the war in Ukraine," they added.
Over the past several months, threats from Putin have escalated as his war against Ukraine, and he's been issuing veiled and no-so-veiled threats of nuclear attacks. Last week, the New York Times reported that Putin's higher-ups began thinking more seriously about a possible nuclear attack.
"Senior Russian military leaders recently had conversations to discuss when and how Moscow might use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, contributing to heightened concern in Washington and allied capitals," the Times reported, citing multiple senior American officials.
Chinese ally Xi Jinping has made it clear to Putin, through German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that a nuclear weapon is a red line for him. So, it makes it clear that to Putin, that he would be completely isolated, aside from North Korea, were he to use such a weapon on Ukraine.
Jack Barsky, a former KGB agent, said that Putin isn't stupid and likely wouldn't act in a way that would ultimately result in his own death.
"Vladimir Putin is not a suicide bomber. Vladimir Putin wants to live," Barsky said in an interview with Insider.
U.S. officials haven't indicated whether the dialogue was fruitful, but it's clear that the U.S. and the rest of the world are taking the threats seriously enough to ensure it's well understood that it would begin a world war in response.
The White House is aware of the talks, they said.