Hearing a president discuss the threat of “Armageddon” – especially now, on camera – will never feel normal.
However, in an exclusive CNN interview on Tuesday, Joe Biden sent another careful, yet clear and chilling message to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the disastrous consequences of using nuclear weapons in the Ukraine war.
Biden, the first president since the 1980s to have to make calculations about nuclear arsenals and deterrence, was asked by Jake Tapper if he thought Putin, who has warned that he is prepared to use every option in Russia’s arsenal, might consider detonating one of the world’s most heinous weapons as a desperate act in a losing war.
However, the President, who first mentioned this at an off-camera fundraiser in New York last week, made it clear that he was sending a public message to Putin about the dangers of realizing that using a lower yield, tactical nuclear bomb would be an isolated event.
“What I am talking about, I am talking to Putin. He, in fact, cannot continue with impunity to talk about the use of a tactical nuclear weapon as if that’s a rational thing to do,” Biden said, before warning of the dangerous consequences of such a move.
“The mistakes get made, the miscalculation could occur, no one could be sure what would happen and it could end in Armageddon,” he said, again, a nuclear blast that kills thousands of people could send events out of control.
Biden is expressing the concern of some strategists who warn of a spiral of escalation that could occur if a nuclear bomb is used and triggers Western reprisals – even though any initial US response would almost certainly be limited to conventional military action.
The President to state the US and NATO red lines in Ukraine, as well as what Washington would do if Putin bombed a nuclear plant in Ukraine or exploded a tactical nuclear weapon.
“It would be irresponsible for me to talk about what we would or wouldn’t do,” Biden said.