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Greatest Risk of Nuclear ‘Armageddon’ Since 1962: Biden

Biden said Putin is “not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons” in Ukraine, but he warned that doing that could ‘end with Armageddon’

Biden has spoken about Putin's threat to use nuclear weapons, saying it's the closest we've been to Armageddon since 1962.
Biden has spoken about Putin's threat to use nuclear weapons, saying it's the closest they have been to Armageddon (a nuclear war that destroys the world) since 1962.. Photo: White House via Reuters.


Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons in its conflict with Ukraine could bring the biggest such risk since the Cuban Missile Crisis 60 years ago, US President Joe Biden said on Thursday.

The White House has said repeatedly it has seen no indication that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons in despite what it calls Putin’s “nuclear saber-rattling.”

But Biden made clear he was keeping a wary eye on Putin and how he might react as Ukraine’s military makes gains against Russian invaders.

“For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we have a direct threat to the use of nuclear weapons, if in fact things continue down the path they’d been going,” Biden told Democratic donors in New York.

He also said: “We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis.”

In the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States under President John Kennedy and Soviet Union under its leader, Nikita Khrushchev, came close to the use of nuclear weapons over the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

Putin, said Biden, is “not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons, because his military is, you might say, is significantly underperforming.”

“I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily (use) a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon,” Biden said.

Biden said he and US officials are searching for a diplomatic off-ramp.

“We’re trying to figure out what is Putin’s off-ramp…Where does he find a way out? Where does he find himself in a position he does not, not only lose face but lose significant power in Russia,” Biden said.

Biden spoke at the New York home of businessman James Murdoch, turning to the son of conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch to try to boost his party’s chances in November 8 congressional elections.

The event at Murdoch’s home was to benefit the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is providing support for Democratic candidates for the Senate.

Although the Kremlin has said it will absorb parts of Ukraine, the Russian military has suffered further defeats in recent days and those setbacks have caused rifts among government leaders and added to tensions created by the mobilization of more Russian men to fight in the war.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard





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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.


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