Biden suggests Putin’s threats mean ‘apocalyptic prospect’

President Biden warned Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons was the worst “doomsday prospect” in 60 years.

Biden’s comments, made at a Democratic fundraiser in New York City, spent much time warning about the threat he said were posed by Republicans, but also referenced Putin and Russia’s war on Ukraine. The president told attendees that he “knows” Putin “very well” and said the Russian president “is not joking when he talks about the possible use of tactical nuclear or biological or chemical weapons.”

He added: “We haven’t faced the prospect of doomsday since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis. I don’t think there’s anything that can easily [use] Tactical nuclear weapons, not the end of the world. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy confronted Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev over a Soviet-built missile base in Cuba, and many feared the standoff could lead to nuclear war.

Biden added: “We’re trying to figure out, what is Putin’s exit? Where does he find his way out? Where does he find himself not only humiliated, but also wielding enormous power?”

The comments came a week after Putin held a sham referendum and illegally annexed southern and eastern Ukraine, declaring that the people living there would “always be our citizens”.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, Putin has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons, especially as Russia’s military prospects deteriorate. In recent weeks, Putin has had to order a partial military mobilization to call up as many as 300,000 reservists, while Ukrainian troops have regained territory on the eastern and southern fronts.

In a fiery speech on Friday during the formal annexation of Ukrainian territory — a move widely condemned as illegal — Putin warned that the United States “set a precedent” when it used nuclear weapons against Japan in 1945.

A few weeks ago, in a televised speech in September. On the 21st, Putin declared: “If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will undoubtedly use all available means to protect Russia and our people. This is not bluff.”

Analysis: Why Putin’s threats may be more than just bluffs

Biden denounced the remarks during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York that day.

“Just today, President Putin publicly threatened Europe with a reckless disregard for the responsibility of the non-proliferation regime,” Biden said. “A nuclear war cannot be won. And it must not be fought.”

Biden’s rhetoric was sharper on Thursday, warning that the world would come to an end if Putin followed through on his threat, which Biden sees as a real possibility.

“For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we face the threat of nuclear weapons, if in fact things continue in the direction they’re going,” Biden said.

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