Biden’s ‘Armageddon’ speech crosses US intelligence boundaries
President Joe Biden’s warning that the world risks a nuclear ‘Armageddon’ was designed to send a stark message that no one should underestimate the extraordinary danger if Russia deploys tactical nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine, administration officials said on Friday.
The president’s grim assessment, presented at a Democratic fundraiser on Thursday night, has gone viral and appeared to overstep the bounds of current US intelligence assessments. US security officials continue to say they have no evidence Vladimir Putin has imminent plans for a nuclear strike.
Biden swerved to talk about Ukraine at the end of his usual fundraising remarks, saying Putin “wasn’t kidding when he talked about the use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons.” “We haven’t faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” he added. He suggested that Putin’s threat is real “because his military is – you might say – grossly underperforming”. On Friday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre did not respond directly to questions about whether Biden entered the event with the intention of invoking Armageddon, as the White House sought to clarify the president’s off-the-cuff comments.
She told reporters: “Russia’s talk of using nuclear weapons is irresponsible and there is no way to use them without unintended consequences. It can’t happen.” She added that “if the Cuban Missile Crisis has taught us anything, it’s the value of reducing nuclear risk, not wielding it.” Biden’s national security team has been warning for months that Russia could use weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine as it has. facing a series of strategic setbacks on the battlefield. But the president’s remarks were the starkest warnings ever issued by the US government on nuclear issues.
A US official said Biden was also trying to warn against underestimating the danger of any level of tactical nuclear weapons. The administration is concerned that Russia has determined that it can use its nuclear arsenal in a way that is not a “full-fledged” nuclear attack on Ukraine and only faces a limited reaction from U.S. and Western allies who are determined to prevent the Ukraine conflict from escalating into a wider war, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration believing Putin hinted repeatedly to the use of his country’s vast nuclear arsenal, including last month when he announced his intention to recruit Russian men to serve in Ukraine.
“I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction (…) and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal “, Putin said. . “It’s not a bluff.” In Europe, leaders sought to lower the volume after Biden’s stern warning.
Asked about Biden’s remarks, French President Emmanuel Macron said it was crucial to speak with caution about the nuclear threat.
“I have always refused to engage in political fiction, and above all (…) talking about nuclear weapons,” Macron said at a European summit in Prague. “On this issue, we have to be very careful.” European Council President Charles Michel told reporters that the leaders took “every escalation very seriously”, “threats will not intimidate us”, Michel said. “Instead, we are going to stay calm. We are going to keep a cool head and call out the irresponsibility of these threats every time.” Jean-Pierre reiterated on Friday that the United States “saw no reason to adjust its own strategic nuclear posture and that we have no indication that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons imminently.” This isn’t the first time Biden’s comments have appeared to go against the fringes of American politics.
Last month, Biden, in a CBS “60 Minutes” interview, said “American forces, American men and women, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.” The White House said after the interview that US policy toward Taiwan hadn’t changed. This policy indicates that Washington wants to see Taiwan’s status resolved peacefully, but does not say whether US forces could be sent in response to a Chinese attack.
In March, as he wrapped up a speech in Warsaw, Biden appeared to be calling for Putin’s ouster, saying, “For the love of God, this man can’t stay in power.” Even before Biden could board Air Force One to begin the flight back to Washington, aides scrambled to clarify that he was not calling for an immediate change of government in Moscow.
Earlier that month, Biden called Putin a “war criminal” for Russia’s assault on Ukraine before the White House backtracked on his comments. The White House had avoided applying the “war criminal” label to Putin, as it requires investigation and international determination. After Biden used the term, his press secretary at the time, Jen Psaki, said the president was “speaking from his heart” and clarified that the administration recognized there was a process to make a formal decision. .
As for Biden’s latest remarks, “People are kind of saying, Oh, yeah, that’s Biden. You know, he says that stuff,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of Scientists. Americans, and a veteran of nuclear policy research.
“But overseas countries are saying, Whoa, that’s what the American president is saying,” Kristensen said. “And so that means we have to be very careful about the use of big words” which, in themselves, can unintentionally escalate nuclear tensions.
Biden’s strong choice of words could have an unintended impact on Russia, Kristensen said, the biggest problem with the president’s latest comments.
“It’s absolutely clear to me that Putin is going to look at this and be like, ‘Wow, you know, I got their attention now. So they’re really scared.'”
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)