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Biden Warns of Nuclear ‘Armageddon’ as Putin’s Military Battle

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President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is the highest in 60 years after Russian President Vladimir Putin renewed his threats as his army withdrew to Ukraine.

In remarks at a reception before the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Biden said it was the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 that there has been an “immediate threat” of nuclear weapons being used, “if things basically sit down.” the way they go.”

“We haven’t had to deal with Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” he said, making his most blunt remarks about the use of nuclear weapons since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Late last month, Putin renewed the nuclear threats he had made at the start of the Russian invasion.

“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all available means to protect Russia and our people,” the Russian leader said in a nationally televised speech.

“I’m not bluffing,” he added.

Putin warned when he announced the call-up of 300,000 Russian troops after his forces suffered serious setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine.

This week, Kiev’s forces pushed forward into the east and south of the country, threatening a major new breakthrough and forcing Putin’s soldiers to withdraw from the area he claimed to have annexed in a grand ceremony last week. With mounting pressure over those defeats and the chaotic mobilization at home, fears have grown that he may be willing to escalate further rather than accept defeat.

Biden said on Thursday that he is taking Putin’s threat seriously.

“We have a man I know pretty well. He’s not kidding when he talks about the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons, because his military is significantly underperforming.”

Biden added that he didn’t think the Kremlin could resort to a tactical nuclear strike on the battlefield — as some analysts have speculated — without provoking global catastrophe.

“I don’t think there is such a thing as the ability to easily [use] a tactical nuclear weapon and not end with Armageddon,” he said.

“We are trying to find out where Putin is off the slope? Where does he find a way out? Where does he find himself where he not only loses face but also loses considerable power?” said Biden.

Biden spoke at the home of James Murdoch, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who organized the fundraiser. His somewhat unguarded comments were not said on camera, but reported by journalists as part of the polar reporting system.

The US has officially been cautious in its assessment of Putin’s nuclear threats.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday: “We have not seen any reason to change our own strategic nuclear stance, nor do we have any indication that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons in the near term.”

Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” last month that the consequences “would be catastrophic if Russia went down the dark path of using nuclear weapons.”

Pressed by host Chuck Todd about what those countermeasures would be, Sullivan said only, “In private channels, we’ve laid out in more detail what that would mean.”

Earlier Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Putin knew the “world will never forgive Russia” if it used nuclear weapons.

“He understands that after using nuclear weapons, he would not be able to, so to speak, to save his life, and I have every confidence in that,” Zelenskyy said.

Putin has used the threat of nuclear weapons as a tactic during his presidency and pledged in 2007 to aim his nuclear warheads at European targets.

In 2018, Russia unveiled a new set of nuclear weapons, including an intercontinental ballistic missile that renders defense systems “unusable,” Putin claimed.

Western military analysts have expressed doubts about whether the Russian leader’s latest threats represent a real change in the calculus.

“I think it’s a signal that he wants people to think he would risk nuclear war,” Phillips O’Brien, a professor of strategic studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, told NBC News on the day. of Putin’s television warning. “I don’t think it means he’s more likely to do it than yesterday.”

Kelly O’Donnell contributed.

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