Biden questions Putin’s nuclear intentions
US President Joe Biden has voiced skepticism over Moscow’s assurances on the use of atomic weapons, just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin argued that his country has no logical reason to take such a drastic step. He accused the West of shaping public opinion to blame Russia for a possible “nuclear incident” in Ukraine.
Asked about Putin’s comments earlier on Thursday that Moscow has nothing to gain from deploying nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Biden answered with a question of his own, saying: “if he has no intention, why does he keep talking about it?”
“Why does he talk about the ability to use a tactical nuclear weapon? He’s been very dangerous in how he’s approached this. He can end this all, get out of Ukraine,” Biden added.
"If he has no intention, why does he keep talking about it?" President Joe Biden says about Russia President Vladimir Putin's statement that he has no intent to use nuclear warfare in Ukraine.Watch #RushHour live: https://t.co/s8z9kEhRC4pic.twitter.com/vSoKw1ktpx— NewsNation (@NewsNation) October 27, 2022
During an event at a Moscow-based think tank earlier in the day, Putin was asked whether the world was indeed on the brink of nuclear war, given increasingly worrisome rhetoric in Western media and Biden’s own recent warning of a “nuclear Armageddon.”
The Russian president spoke at length about nuclear arms and Western allegations, reiterating that Moscow has never threatened to use nuclear weapons, let alone mentioned a tactical weapon. Russian officials never even “proactively said anything” about the use of nuclear weapons, unless in response to Western leaders’ provocative statements.
“We have no need to do this, there is no sense for us in this – neither politically nor militarily,” Putin said in response to persistent speculation that Moscow could launch a low-yield “tactical” nuclear weapon in Ukraine.
Putin has vowed to defend Russia’s territory and people using “all the forces and resources we have” – remarks widely interpreted as a veiled nuclear warning by Western pundits and officials. On Wednesday, amid NATO’s ongoing 'Steadfast Noon' nuclear exercise, Putin personally oversaw military drills enacting a retaliatory nuclear strike.
Even as Biden and allied leaders have issued dire warnings about the potential for nuclear conflict in Eastern Europe, the US intelligence community has repeatedly clarified that it sees no signs of impending nuclear warfare, with CIA Director William Burns saying there is no “practical evidence” suggesting the “imminent threat of using tactical nuclear weapons” by Russia.
On Thursday, Putin went on to argue that such baseless allegations are part of a plan to frame Moscow for any possible “nuclear incident” in Ukraine in order to justify continued hostilities and tarnish Russia’s reputation around the world.
“[Western nations] are seeking some kind of nuclear incident in order to lay responsibility on Russia and inflate a new round of struggle with Russia, sanctions against Russia and so on,” he continued. Such a provocation would serve “to influence our friends, our allies, to influence neutral states, to tell them: look who you support there, what a terrible country Russia is.”
Russia in recent days has instead claimed that Kiev seeks to deploy a “dirty bomb” – a conventional munition equipped to disperse radioactive material – with Putin even stating on Thursday that Russian intelligence knows where the weapon is being prepared. Moscow has brought the issue before the United Nations Security Council, though Ukraine and its Western backers dismissed Russia’s claims as “absurd.”