December 9, 2023

President Joe Biden aboard Marine One arrives on the Wall Avenue Touchdown Zone in New York, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, to attend a Democratic Senatorial Marketing campaign Committee reception. (AP Picture/Andrew Harnik)

NEW YORK (AP) — President Joe Biden mentioned Thursday that the danger of nuclear “Armageddon” is on the highest degree for the reason that 1962 Cuban Missile Disaster, as Russian officers communicate of the potential of utilizing tactical nuclear weapons after struggling huge setbacks within the eight-month invasion of Ukraine.

Talking at a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Marketing campaign Committee, Biden mentioned Russian President Vladimir Putin was “a man I do know pretty effectively” and the Russian chief was “not joking when he talks about using tactical nuclear weapons or organic or chemical weapons.”

Biden added, “We’ve not confronted the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Disaster.” He prompt the risk from Putin is actual “as a result of his navy is — you would possibly say — considerably underperforming.”

U.S. officers for months have warned of the prospect that Russia may use weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine because it has confronted a sequence of strategic setbacks on the battlefield, although Biden’s remarks marked the starkest warnings but issued by the U.S. authorities concerning the nuclear stakes.

It was not instantly clear whether or not Biden was referring to any new evaluation of Russian intentions. As lately as this week, although, U.S. officers have mentioned they’ve seen no change to Russia’s nuclear forces that may require a change within the alert posture of U.S. nuclear forces.

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“We’ve not seen any cause to regulate our personal strategic nuclear posture, nor do now we have indication that Russia is making ready to imminently use nuclear weapons,” White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre mentioned Tuesday.

The 13-day showdown in 1962 that adopted the U.S. discovery of the Soviet Union’s secret deployment of nuclear weapons to Cuba is regarded by consultants because the closest the world has ever come to nuclear annihilation. The disaster throughout President John F. Kennedy’s administration sparked a renewed concentrate on arms management on either side of the Iron Curtain.

Biden additionally challenged Russian nuclear doctrine, warning that using a lower-yield tactical weapon may rapidly spiral uncontrolled into world destruction.

“I don’t assume there’s any such a factor as the flexibility to simply use a tactical nuclear weapon and never find yourself with Armageddon,” Biden mentioned.

He added that he was nonetheless “making an attempt to determine” out Putin’s “off-ramp” in Ukraine.

“The place does he discover a method out?” Biden requested. “The place does he discover himself ready that he doesn’t not solely lose face however lose important energy inside Russia?”

Putin has repeatedly alluded to utilizing his nation’s huge nuclear arsenal, together with final month when he introduced plans to conscript Russian males to serve in Ukraine.

“I need to remind you that our nation additionally has varied technique of destruction … and when the territorial integrity of our nation is threatened, to guard Russia and our folks, we will definitely use all of the means at our disposal,” Putin mentioned Sept. 21, including with a lingering stare on the digital camera, “It’s not a bluff.”

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White Home nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan mentioned final week that the U.S. has been “clear” to Russia about what the “penalties” of utilizing a nuclear weapon in Ukraine can be.

“That is one thing that we’re attuned to, taking very significantly, and speaking straight with Russia about, together with the sort of decisive responses the US would have in the event that they went down that darkish highway,” Sullivan mentioned.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mentioned earlier Thursday that Putin understood that the “world won’t ever forgive” a Russian nuclear strike.

“He understands that after using nuclear weapons he can be unable any extra to protect, so to talk, his life, and I’m assured of that,” Zelenskyy mentioned.

Biden’s feedback got here throughout a personal fundraiser for Democratic Senate candidates on the Manhattan house of James and Kathryn Murdoch. He tends to be extra unguarded — usually talking with simply tough notes — in such settings, that are open solely to a handful of reporters with out cameras or recording units.

Miller reported from Washington.