(CNSNews.com) - President Biden’s use of the word “armageddon” when talking about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons in the war with Ukraine was an attempt to reinforce what the administration has been saying - that the White House takes these threats seriously, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Friday.
As CNSNews.com previously reported, Biden told a group of Democratic donors that Putin is “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,” he said.
During a gaggle on board Air Force One en route to Hagerston, Md., a reporter asked, “Did the president plan to use the word armageddon? Why did he choose that particular reference to Revelations 16:16?”
JEAN-PIERRE: So Russia’s talk of using nuclear weapons is irresponsible, and there’s no way to use them without unintended consequences. It cannot happen. We won’t be intimidated by Putin’s rhetoric. We have not seen any reason to adjust our own nuclear posture, nor do we have indications they are preparing to use them, but Putin can de-escalate this at any time, and there is no reason to escalate.
REPORTER: Why were those comments made for the first time in front of a group of donors rather than a press conference in a public type of forum?
JEAN-PIERRE: So, the president’s comments has been very consistent. He was reinforcing what we have been saying, which is how seriously we have ta- — we take these threats about nuclear weapons, as we have done when the Russians have made these threats throughout the conflict. So the kind of irresponsible rhetoric we have seen is no way for the leader of a nuclear-armed state to speak, and that’s what the president was making very clear about.
REPORTER: Karine, do you have new intel that caused the president to ratchet up the level of concern?
JEAN-PIERRE: No. No. The president was speaking about concerns about Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons, just as he did at the U.N. General Assembly and we have done over the past few weeks. You have heard us say this over and over again; you’ve heard it from the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan — how seriously we are taking this, and that’s what the President was speaking to.
REPORTER: So there’s no imminent threat? I mean, there’s no —
JEAN-PIERRE: No. We — there is — there is no — there is no — we — as I said before, we have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture, nor do we have indications that Russia is preparing to imminently use nuclear weapons.
REPORTER: Karine, the President also talked about the fact that you’re trying to figure out what Putin’s off-ramp is or something that would allow him to save face. Is there any concession being discussed between the U.S. and allies that would be acceptable to make sure that this conflict de-escalates?
JEAN-PIERRE: So the way that we see this — and you’ve heard us say this before: There is only — there’s only one country that is responsible for this war — only one country — and that’s Russia, and they started this conflict, and Mr. Putin has the ability to stop this conflict today.
REPORTER: The president also said that it remains to be seen if he meets with President Putin at the G20. Are there any preconditions for — under which he would do this meeting or not do this meeting? And can you talk about the planning for such a meeting, in the event?
JEAN-PIERRE: So, I don’t have anything to preview. I’ll say one more thing: You know, Russia’s nuclear rhetoric has been reckless and irresponsible, but if the Cuban Missile Crisis has taught us anything, it is the value of reducing nuclear risk and not brandishing it.