Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and retired Adm. Mike Mullen spoke out against President Joe Biden on Sunday, urging him to “back off” from ominous warnings of nuclear “Armageddon.”
During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Mullen warned co-anchor Martha Raddatz that overly-heated language risks making a solution to the Russia-Ukraine war impossible.
“We’re about at the top of the language scale, if you will,” Mullen said. “I think we need to back off that a little bit and do everything we possibly can to try to get to the table and resolve this thing.”
Biden said at a recent fundraiser that we are facing “the prospect of Armageddon” amid nuclear saber-rattling, and there is a “direct threat of the use of a nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path that they are going.”
He said Putin is “not joking” about using nuclear weapons in the war, which is entering its eighth month.
In what some interpreted as a veiled reference to nuclear weapons, Putin on Sept. 30 said he would use “all available means” to defend four regions of Ukraine annexed in September following referendums condemned in the West. Some of the annexed regions have since been retaken by Ukrainian forces.
Mullen compared Putin to “a cornered animal” who is becoming “more and more dangerous.”
He said the much-sought-after “off-ramp” out of the war could lie in “those four provinces, or some combination of them.”
“As is typical in any war, it’s got to end, and usually there are negotiations associated with that,” he said. “The sooner the better, as far as I’m concerned.”
Biden also referenced tactical nuclear weapons during his remarks, saying he doesn’t think you can “easily” use one “and not end up with Armageddon.”
Mullen said Putin has “some very small” nuclear weapons which, “while devastating, would localize the damage.”
He suggested that Putin “could pick a symbolic target,” such as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hometown, “as opposed to having a big impact on the battlefield.”
“The winds all blow back on Russia, so he would have to, in a way, contaminate his own country,” Mullen said.