Washington: The risk of a nuclear “Armageddon” is at its highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, US President Joe Biden has said.
Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “not joking” when he spoke of using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering setbacks in Ukraine, BBC reported.
The US was “trying to figure out” Putin’s way out of the war, he added.
The US and the EU have previously said that Putin’s nuclear sabre-rattling should be taken seriously.
However, the US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan last week said that despite Moscow’s nuclear hints, the US had seen no signs that Russia was imminently preparing to use a nuclear weapon, the BBC reported.
Ukraine has been retaking territory occupied by Russia during its invasion that began on February 24, including in the four regions Russia illegally annexed recently.
For several months, US officials have been warning that Russia could resort to the use of weapons of mass destruction, if it suffers setbacks on the battlefield.
During a speech last Friday, the Russian leader said the US had created a “precedent” by using nuclear weapons against Japan at the end of World War II.
Putin has also threatened to use every means at his disposal to protect Russian territory.
President Biden said the reason the Russian leader had not been “not joking” when he talked about using tactical nuclear, biological or chemical weapons was “because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming”.
“For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we have a direct threat to the use of nuclear weapons, if in fact things continue down the path they’d been going,” Biden told fellow Democrats.
“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis.”