White House says nuclear attack not ‘imminent’ after Biden warns ‘armageddon’ more likely amid Putin threats

The White House is insisting that it has no reason to believe there is an “imminent” threat of Vladimir Putin using nuclear weapons in the war against Ukraine after Joe Biden warned a crowd that the conflict could lead to “armageddon”.

The latest move by the West Wing comms team to clean up after the president’s remarks comes following Mr Biden’s appearance at a DNC fundraiser last week hosted by James Murdoch, son of Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch.

At the gathering, Mr Biden commented on reports that Mr Putin could be considering conducting a nuclear test near Ukrainian territory while the war between the two countries rages on and the odds look increasingly stacked against the Russian invaders.

The US president suggested that there was no way for the Russians to test such a device without the conflict seriously escalating.

“We have not faced the prospect of armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” he told the attendees, per The Hill.

This is “a guy I know fairly well,” Mr Biden continued, referring to the Russian leader: “He’s not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming.”

Karine Jean-Pierre sought to tamp down on the emotional response to those remarks on Friday, telling reporters aboard Air Force One that the US had no reason to suggest that such a test or actual deployment of nuclear weapons would occur in the near future.

“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture, nor do we have indications that Russia is preparing to imminently use nuclear weapons,” she said.

The president, she continued, was merely chiding Mr Putin on his own choice of rhetoric regarding the use of nuclear weapons in recent weeks.

Mr Putin made clear in September that Russia would consider use of nuclear weapons against Nato if its territory were to be threatened as a result of its invasion of Ukraine.

At the time, he warned: “To those who allow themselves to make such statements about Russia, I would like to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and for some components more modern than those of the NATO countries.”

“And if the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” Mr Putin added, stressing: “This is not a bluff.”

The threat was the most significant suggestion of the use of nuclear weapons by a leader with access to those weapons in decades and threatened to return Washington and Moscow to the height of tensions not seen since the Cold War.

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