President Biden’s Nuclear ‘Armageddon’ Risk Alarm Leaves the Question: WHAT NOW?

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The West has been concerned by Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons.  But it worries people in Russia, too.  Russia has previously stated that any attack on its “new territories” will be viewed as an attack on Russia’s territorial integrity. The Kremlin has indicated that it will respond “with all means at its disposal.”

A Ukrainian officer stands in front of a French self-propelled 155 mm/52-calibre gun Caesar at a front line in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 15, 2022 [ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images]

The Risk of a Nuclear War Highest Since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962

President Biden stated that when Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about using tactical nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, he “wasn’t kidding.” According to US President Joe Biden, the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is at its highest since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Mr. Biden stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “not joking” when he talked about using tactical nuclear weapons if Russia lost the Ukraine war. He claimed that the US was “trying to figure out” how Mr. Putin could get out of the war.

According to the US and the EU, Mr. Putin’s nuclear threats should be taken seriously. Despite Moscow’s nuclear hints, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said last week that the US had seen no indications that Russia was about to use a nuclear weapon soon.

Ukraine has been reclaiming territory that Russia has illegally annexed, including four regions that Russia has recently annexed unlawfully.

For months, US officials have warned that if Russia loses the battle, it may resort to using weapons of mass destruction.

President Biden stated that when Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about using tactical nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, he was “not joking” because “his military is significantly underperforming.”

“We have a direct threat of using nuclear weapons for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis,” Mr. Biden told his fellow Democrats. “We haven’t had to deal with the possibility of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

Caroline Kennedy, left, views a treaty document with Sergie Khrushchev, right, son of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, prior to a special Kennedy Library forum marking the 40th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis at the JFK Library Sunday afternoon. The photograph of their fathers, displayed at right, was made during the Vienna summit held in 1961. President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev met for the first time at this summit. [John Bohn/The Boston Globe/Getty Images]

Soviet Installed Nuclear Weapons In Cuba To Accost US

What happened during the “Cuba Missile Crisis”? The 13-day event in October 1962 set the two major superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, on a collision course. It has come to embody the threat of nuclear annihilation.

It all began when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev broke a promise by installing nuclear weapons in Cuba, putting Washington, DC, and New York City within striking distance. This was a litmus test for John F. Kennedy, the new President of the United States. 

Kennedy considered launching a full-scale attack on Cuba but instead opted for a naval blockade. He forced the Soviets to dismantle the missiles and return them to Russia behind the scenes.

President Putin stated in a speech last Friday that the United States had set a “precedent” by using nuclear weapons against Japan at the end of World War II. But, as our Russia editor Steve Rosenberg points out, Western governments would have taken notice of this remark.

Mr. Putin has also stated that he will use any means necessary to defend Russian territory.

Even as Mr. Putin signed the final papers annexing four regions of Ukraine (Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson), Ukrainian forces moved into the areas he claimed.

Hundreds of thousands of Russian men have fled the country rather than being drafted to fight in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) with Ukrainian separatist regional leaders Vladimir Saldo (L), Yevgeniy Balitsky (2L), Leonid Pasechnik (R) and Denis Pushilin (2R) seen during the annexation ceremony of four Ukrainian regions at the Grand Kremlin Palace, September 30, 2022, in Moscow, Russia. [Contributor/Getty Images]

A Pushback Against Moscow

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has previously declared that Russia’s nuclear threats are “continually told by Russian officials and propagandists.”

According to Paul Stronski of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Russia’s “destabilizing rhetoric” is intended to frighten away the West.

There has also been some pushback against Moscow’s nuclear threats in Russia itself.  For example, the country’s leading newspaper, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, published an editorial slamming “senior Russian officials” for “talking about the nuclear button.”

“Thinking and talking about the possibility of nuclear war is a sure step toward allowing it to happen.”

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry told reporters that Moscow’s position on nuclear war “must never be waged” has not changed.

Mr. Biden made the remarks during a Democratic fundraising event at the New York home of James Murdoch, son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

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