(NEW YORK) — President Joe Biden issued a dire warning about the escalating nuclear dilemma in Russia Thursday night, saying the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, is “not joking” when he talks about potentially using the weapons.
At a fundraiser in New York City, Biden said for the “first time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have the direct threat of the use of a nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path that they are going. That’s a different deal.”
“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis,” he said. “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 Putin’s military is “underperforming” in Ukraine and he may feel threatened.
The president said he knows Putin “fairly well” and has spent “a fair amount of time with him” and warned that Putin is serious.
“He 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, significantly underperforming.”
“There’s a lot at stake,” Biden said. “We are trying to figure out what is Putin’s off-ramp? Where does he get off? 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?”
Putin recently implemented a partial mobilization of 300,000 conscripts and has undertaken what has been called “sham” referenda to annex Ukrainian territory — moves seen as a dramatic escalation in the conflict.
And with those moves, he warned he will use “all available means” to protect what he now sees as Russian people and territory.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently called for Putin to stop his “reckless nuclear threats” during an address to the U.N. Security Council.
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