- WH said that throughout the crisis, Putin has falsely alleged that Russia is under threat from NATO
- White House said neither the US nor NATO has any desire or intention for conflict with Russia
- Notably, Moscow has put its nuclear deterrent on high alert amid
US President Joe Biden said on Monday Americans should not worry about a nuclear war after Moscow put its nuclear deterrent on high alert amid a barrage of Western reprisals over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
In response to a question about whether US citizens should be concerned about a nuclear war breaking out, Biden said "no."
White House officials said earlier in the day the United States sees no reason to change its nuclear alert levels at this time. “But it's also important to remember that, even over the course of the last several months and years, when we have had significant disagreements with Russia over a range of issues, Russia and the United States have long agreed that nuclear use would have devastating consequences and have stated many times, including earlier this year, that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in response to a question.
Throughout the crisis, Russia and President Putin have falsely alleged that it is under threat, including from Ukraine, including from NATO, she noted.
“Neither the United States nor NATO has any desire or intention for conflict with Russia. And we think provocative rhetoric like this regarding nuclear weapons is dangerous, adds to the risk of miscalculation, should be avoided, and we’ll not indulge in it,” Psaki said.
“There's no question that what we've seen from President Putin, whether it is escalatory rhetoric as it relates to nuclear capabilities and nuclear intentions -- something that is in direct conflict with something President Putin, himself, and the Russians committed to -- had an alternate -- committed to something else just a year ago, or whether it is the speech he gave last week where he questioned the sovereignty of the country of Ukraine at all, or the actions he's taking right now,” she said.
“Those are not actions of a global leader that should be treated with respect on the global stage,” Psaki said.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby described Putin's comment in this regard as unnecessary and escalatory.
“But we are reviewing and analysing that announcement. And I would only just tell you that as we continue to review and analyse and monitor that (Defense) Secretary (Lloyd) Austin is comfortable with the strategic deterrent posture of the United States,” he told reporters.
Senator Joni Ernst, a combat veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, slammed Putin for his comments on nuclear weapons.
“This would be a catastrophe and it would be the end of the Russian Federation. This type of action — going to nuclear war — would absolutely not be tolerated by anyone around this globe. And we certainly need to hear President Biden speak out against these types of actions,” he told Fox News in an interview.
“Vladimir Putin has gone a step too far making these threats, and we need our president to step up and be a leader, not a follower, but a leader and decry these types of announcements by Vladimir Putin. But again, this would truly be the end of the Russian Federation as the rest of the world would step up and destroy him,” he said.
Senator Jim Inhofe, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a statement called on Putin to walk back his threats to go nuclear and to end this war - for which he is solely responsible.
“We have now witnessed the lengths he is willing to go to get what he wants: apartment buildings hit by missiles, civilians indiscriminately killed, Ukrainians taking to subway tunnels as makeshift bomb shelters, and desperate mothers with small children fleeing major cities in the bitter cold of Ukrainian winter,” he said.
Senator Deb Fischer, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the top Republican on the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, said that as if his senseless decision to invade Ukraine and bring horrific devastation to its people wasn’t evidence enough, Putin’s attempt at nuclear blackmail illuminates the truly threatening nature of his regime.
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