Biden: Risk of Nuclear 'Armageddon' Is Highest Since Cuban Missile Crisis

Susan Jones | October 7, 2022 | 8:06am EDT
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(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Various members of the Biden administration have said they see no indication that Russia is about to launch an imminent nuclear attack. But speaking off-camera last night at a Democrat fundraiser in New York, President Biden talked about nuclear "Armageddon."

"We've got a guy I know fairly well," the press pool quoted Biden as saying. "He's not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military is, as you might say, significantly underperforming."

“First time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we have a direct threat of the use [of a] nuclear weapon if, in fact, things continue down the path they are going,” Biden said. "I’m 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 that he does not not only lose face but lose significant power within Russia?”

“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.”

Just four days ago, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, said there's no indication so far that Russian President Vladimir Putin will make good on his implied threat to use nuclear weapons in his war with Ukraine.

In a speech last month, Putin warned, "[I]f the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff."

Kirby told CNN on Monday, "We're watching this as closely as we can, and we've seen nothing that would make us change our strategic deterrent posture. So look, we'll take these threats seriously as we must and we have since the beginning of this war. And it was very early on that Vladimir Putin was using bellicose nuclear rhetoric.

"So we have been taking it seriously for quite some time. Again, nothing that would cause us to change our strategic deterrent posture at this time...We haven't seen any indications that Mr. Putin has made that kind of a decision."

Kirby added that ever since Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February, "of course we have been thinking through how we can make sure we can preserve our national security interest and those of our allies in NATO." But no administration officials are saying publicly what the U.S. response would be.

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