In an interview with CBS News, US President Joe Biden urged Russian President Vladimir Putin not to use tactical nuclear or chemical weapons in the wake of setbacks in Ukraine.
This week, the military of Ukraine routtened Russian forces in the country’s northeast, putting Putin under pressure from nationalists at home to retake the initiative.
Concerns have been raised that Putin may eventually resort to unconventional measures like small nuclear or chemical weapons because of his warnings that Moscow would react more forcefully if its troops were put under more pressure.
While declining to provide specifics, Joe Biden stated that the American response would be “consequential”. According to Biden, Russia “would become more of a pariah in the world than they have ever been.” What would happen would depend on how far they go with their actions.
Although Russian government representatives have rejected Western suggestions that Moscow would use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, some in the West still worry about it.
Putin made a covert but clear threat to use nuclear weapons if the West interfered in what he has called a “special military operation” when he announced the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
He said, in accordance with a Kremlin translation, “No matter who tries to stand in our way or… create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.”
Other options for Putin include calling up the country’s reserves, which total around 2 million soldiers, and exerting pressure on Europe to coerce Ukraine into a ceasefire by freezing the region this winter by forbidding all energy exports.