Biden Doubts Putin Will Go Nuclear in Ukraine

Biden Doubts Putin Will Go Nuclear in Ukraine

In an interview, Biden expressed his belief that Putin is a rational actor who is nonetheless acting irresponsibly with talk of nuclear weapons use.


President Joe Biden said in an interview on CNN on Tuesday that he doesn’t think Russian president Vladimir Putin will use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

“Well, I don’t think he will,” the president said. “But I think that it’s irresponsible for him to talk about it, the idea that a world leader of one of the largest nuclear powers in the world says he may use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine.”


The threat of using nuclear weapons could lead “to just a horrible outcome. And not because anybody intends to turn it into a world war or anything, but ... the mistakes that can be made, the miscalculations, who knows what would happen?” he continued.

“[Putin], in fact, cannot continue with impunity to talk about the use of a tactical nuclear weapon as if that’s a rational thing to do,” he added. “The mistakes get made. And the miscalculation could occur, no one can be sure what would happen and could end in Armageddon.”

Biden also made it clear that he thinks Putin is “a rational actor who miscalculated significantly.”

“I think he thought he was going to be welcomed with open arms, that this was the home of Mother Russia in Kyiv, and that where he was going to be welcomed, and I think he just totally miscalculated,” he said.

In recent weeks, Putin has repeatedly alluded to the possibility of using his country’s vast nuclear arsenal against Ukraine as the military situation deteriorated for Russian forces.

“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 in a televised address last month. “It’s not a bluff.”

Furthermore, Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president who now serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, outlined last month a potential scenario of a nuclear strike on Ukraine, predicting that the U.S.-led NATO military alliance wouldn’t directly enter the conflict in response because it would be too afraid of a “nuclear apocalypse.”

“Let's imagine that Russia is forced to use the most fearsome weapon against the Ukrainian regime which had committed a large-scale act of aggression that is dangerous for the very existence of our state,” the longtime ally of Putin said.

“I have to remind you again—for those deaf ears who hear only themselves. Russia has the right to use nuclear weapons if necessary,” he continued, adding that it would do so “in predetermined cases.”

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters