US President Joe Biden has warned that the risk of a nuclear “Armageddon” is at its highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Biden said Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin was “not joking” when he spoke of using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering setbacks in the invasion of Ukraine, “because his military is significantly underperforming”.
“For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we have a direct threat to the use of nuclear weapons, if in fact things continue down the path they’d been going,” Mr Biden told fellow Democrats adding that the US is “trying to figure out” Putin’s way out of the war.
“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
“We’ve got a guy I know fairly well,” Biden said, referring to the Russian president. “He’s 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.”
Biden’s comments came at the New York home of James Murdoch, son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, during a Democratic fundraising event.
If Russia did use a nuclear weapon, it would leave the US and its allies with the dilemma of how to respond, with most experts and former officials predicting that if Washington struck back militarily, it would most likely be with conventional weapons, to try to avert rapid escalation to an all-out nuclear war. But Biden said on Thursday night: “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.”
“First time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have the threat of a nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path they are going,” the president said. “We are trying to figure out what is Putin’s off-ramp? Where does he find a way out? Where does he find himself where he does not only lose face but significant power?”
The Cuban missile crisis was a 13-day event in October 1962 that pitted the two main superpowers – the Soviet Union and the US on a collision course and almost caused nuclear war. It started when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev broke a promise and installed nuclear weapons in Cuba putting Washington DC and New York city within range to test the military resolve of new US President John F Kennedy.
Kennedy considered a full-scale assault on Cuba, but decided on a naval blockade of the country… Behind the scenes Kennedy forced the Soviets to dismantle the missiles and take them back to Russia.
During a speech last Friday, Putin said the US had created a “precedent” by using nuclear weapons against Japan at the end of World War Two and also threatened to use every means at his disposal to protect Russian territory including the illegally annexed four regions of Ukraine – Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson .