President Joe Biden said the U.S. is trying to find an “off-ramp” for Russian President Vladimir Putin and worries his threats to use tactical nuclear weapons are real and could lead to “Armageddon.”
“We’re trying to figure out what is Putin’s off-ramp? Where does he get off? Where does he find a way out?” Biden said Thursday at a fundraiser in New York City. “Where does he find himself in a position that he does not, not only lose face but lose significant power in Russia?”
“He is not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological and chemical weapons, because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming,” Biden added. “I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily use tactical nuclear weapons and not end up with Armageddon.”
Putin has renewed his nuclear threats as he announced the annexation of Ukrainian territory, some of which Russia doesn’t control, and with the call-up of 300,000 reservists to reinforce his flagging invasion.
“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” Putin said in a televised national address. “This is not a bluff.”
Biden’s comments are in contrast to those from National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who said last week that the U.S. sees Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons as the latest in a string of similar warnings Putin has employed since the invasion began in February.
“We do not presently see indications about the imminent use of nuclear weapons,” Sullivan said. “We are, of course, monitoring that carefully and staying in close consultation with allies and partners.”
Still, Sullivan said, the US has clearly conveyed that there would be severe consequences if Russia uses nuclear weapons, and continues to take the threat seriously.
Biden’s remarks came at a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at the New York home of James Murdoch, the son of News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch.
The president in recent weeks has been hitting the road to promote recent Democratic legislative victories and to raise money for the party, including fundraisers in New York last month when he was there to address the United Nations General Assembly.
Biden earlier Thursday attended a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in New Jersey at the Middletown home of Governor Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive.
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