Tuesday, October 4, 2022

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‘Not, not, not’: Biden urges Putin on nuclear weapons

The US leader warns that any response “will depend on the scale of what they do in Ukraine.”

US President Joe Biden has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin not to use tactical nuclear or chemical weapons in Ukraine following a series of military casualties.

When asked by an American reporter on CBS’ 60 Minutes what he would say to Putin if he considered using such weapons, Biden said: “No. Not. Not. It would change the face of war like it had not since World War II.”

Ukraine’s military drove back Russian forces in a lightning-fast rout in the north-east of the country last week, and pressured Putin from nationalists at home to regain the initiative.

Putin has warned that Moscow would respond more forcefully if its forces were further pressured, and has expressed concerns that he may eventually use unconventional means such as small nuclear or chemical weapons.

Biden said the US response was “consistent” – but declined to give details.

“[Russia] become more of an outcast in the world than they ever were,” Biden said. “Depending on the scale of their activities will determine what response would take place.”

Russian government officials have dismissed Western suggestions that Moscow would use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

When asked about Biden’s comments, RIA Novosti quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying: “Read [Russia’s nuclear] Teach. Everything is written there.”

According to Moscow’s doctrine, nuclear weapons can be used after “an aggression against Russia or its allies using weapons of mass destruction” or “when the existence of the state is threatened”.

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said last month that nuclear weapons are not necessary from a military perspective.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has previously said that only conventional weapons are used in Ukraine.

The threat that Russia might use tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine cannot be taken lightly, but US intelligence has not seen much practical evidence to substantiate these concerns, its director William Burns said in April.

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