Speaking at a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, President Joe Biden on Thursday said that the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is at the highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the reason being Russian officials speaking of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering massive setbacks in the eight-month invasion of Ukraine.
Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “a guy I know fairly well” and the Russian leader was “not joking when he talks about the use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons.” He added, “We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.” He suggested the threat from Putin is real “because his military is — you might say — significantly underperforming.”
Amidst the escalating Ukraine-Russia conflict, experts around the world have warned for months of the prospect that Russia could use weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine as it has faced a series of strategic setbacks on the battlefield.
On the other hand, U.S. officials said this week that they have seen no change to Russia’s nuclear forces that would require a change in the alert posture of U.S. nuclear forces. “We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture, nor do we have an indication that Russia is preparing to imminently use nuclear weapons,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday.
As opposed to this, Putin has repeatedly alluded to using his country’s vast nuclear arsenal, including last month when he announced plans to conscript 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 Sept. 21, adding with a lingering stare at the camera, “It’s not a bluff.”