President Biden said Thursday that risk of “Armageddon” is at the highest level since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, as Russian officials raise the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering massive setbacks in Ukraine.
“We haven’t faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” Biden said at a fundraiser for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.
“We have a guy I know quite well,” he later said of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “He’s not kidding when he talks about the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons, or biological or chemical weapons, because his military is, you might say, grossly underperforming.”
US officials have warned for months against the prospect that Russia could use weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine, as it has faces a series of strategic setbacks on the battlefield, although Mr Biden’s remarks marked the starkest warnings ever issued by the US government on nuclear issues. Just this week, however, U.S. officials said they had seen no change in Russian nuclear forces that would require a change in the alert posture of U.S. nuclear forces.
“We have seen no reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture, and we have no indication that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons imminently,” the House press secretary said on Tuesday. Blanche, Karine Jean-Pierre.
The 13-day standoff in 1962 that followed the US discovery of the Soviet Union’s secret deployment of nuclear weapons in Cuba is considered by experts to be the closest the world has ever come to annihilation. nuclear. The crisis under the administration of President John F. Kennedy has sparked renewed interest in arms control on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Mr Biden also challenged Russia’s nuclear doctrine, warning that the use of a low-yield tactical weapon could quickly spiral out of control and lead to global destruction.
“I don’t think there’s such a thing as the ability to easily use a tactical nuke and not end up with Armageddon,” Biden said.
Speaking to Democratic donors, Mr Biden said he was “still trying to figure out” Putin’s “exit ramp” in Ukraine.
“Where does he find a way out? asked the president. “Where does he end up where he not only loses face, but significant power?”
Putin has repeatedly hinted at the use of his country’s vast nuclear arsenal, including last month when he announced plans enlist Russian men to serve in Ukraine.
“I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction (…) and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal “, Putin said. On Sept. 21, adding with a long look at the camera, “It’s not a bluff.”
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last week that the United States had been “clear” with Russia about the “consequences” of using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine.
“It’s something we pay attention to, take very seriously, and communicate directly with Russia about, including the kind of decisive responses the United States would have if it were to go down this dark path,” he said. Sullivan.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier Thursday that Putin understood that “the world will never forgive” a Russian nuclear strike.
“He understands that after the use of nuclear weapons he would no longer be able to preserve, so to speak, his life, and I am convinced of that,” Zelenskyy said.