Biden’s new mission: Fight any possibility of a nuclear crisis with Russia


US President Joe Biden’s historic mission is now clear – to lead the world through the most alarming nuclear threat since the darkest days of the Cold War.

All of Biden’s other challenges – from high inflation, Covid-19, climate change and the construction competition with China – pale in the face of the threat posed by The new escalation of Russian President Putin of the war in Ukraine.

Putin’s implied threat that he could use nuclear weapons, spoke in a speech on Wednesday — and his warning that he’s not lying — made Biden’s own speech at the UN General Assembly seem all the more serious.

“This war is about stamping out Ukraine’s right to exist as a state and Ukraine’s right to exist as a people,” Biden said, referring to the invasion as a direct attack on the order-based order. rules set forth by the United Nations.

“That will make your blood cold,” he added.

Putin’s announcement of a nationwide partial mobilization is being seen as an admission of defeat for his Ukraine operation so far, and domestic political pressure is mounting. But the upcoming referendum in occupied Ukraine on joining Russia, which has been described by the West as a sham, brings the war into a tense new phase.

Video: Putin’s threats and military escalation explained

If these regions involve Russia, then Ukraine’s attacks with Western weapons could theoretically be interpreted as an attack on the Russian motherland itself.

This could potentially escalate Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia’s territory.

The Russian leader is clearly looking to scare the Western public and get Washington and allied capitals to rethink their support for Ukraine, which helped turn his invasion into a disaster. so.

Putin may be lying about the possible use of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. But then again, maybe he’s not.

CNN intelligence and law enforcement analyst John Miller said the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency spent years studying Putin’s psychology, including his obsession with masculinity. and his tough appearance and what those concerns might affect him if he started to look weak.

“The use of nuclear weapons is the most serious kind of strategic decision a world leader can make, but for a leader as invested in image as Putin, there can be There’s an emotional element to that decision,” Miller said.

“Currently, no one in the U.S. Intelligence Community estimates the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons at zero,” Miller said.

Putin certainly has a history after experiencing many threats. And Ukrainian generals and foreign military experts have raised fears that, if cornered, the Russian leader could deploy limited tactical nuclear weapons as a show of force. mass destruction or destruction of military assets or units.

Miller said the most pressing question facing the West today – and one that needs to be discussed by leaders at the UN General Assembly – is what to do about Russia’s potential use of tactical nuclear weapons. .

“If such a weapon were to have limited deployment against the Ukrainians, what would be the reaction of NATO, the United States and the world? There are still countries standing on the fence condemning Russia’s actions and participating in sanctions. Will the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons turn the world against Putin? If it’s going to happen, has he figured it out, and does he care? “Miller said.

While tactical nuclear weapons produce a lower explosion radius and a more limited amount of fallout than strategic warheads, launching even the most limited type of such weapon would be “a disaster.” Huge game changer,” Miller added.

“The key question now is: have NATO and the United States agreed on exactly what they would do in that scenario and has that been transmitted through the backing channels that have to go to Russia. We’re in a high-stakes chicken game,” he said.

Any use tactical nuclear weapons would cross a threshold in the history of war and leave the West a conundrum of how to respond without triggering a full-blown nuclear exchange.

And even if the nuclear trend stops for now, Putin has set a sinister new example by mentioning Russia’s nuclear arsenal as leverage in a limited conflict. Other autocracies and nuclear states are picking up tips.

At a time when the idea of ​​nuclear non-proliferation is under extreme stress, Biden issued this warning: “A nuclear war cannot be won and should never be waged.”

Other presidents often say something similar. But he is the first US commander-in-chief in 40 years to grapple with a large-scale nuclear test not as a theoretical possibility but as a practical risk, if hope remains distant. great.

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