Joe Biden says Russia’s Vladimir Putin not planning to use nuclear weapons to invade Ukraine

Joe Biden says Russia’s Vladimir Putin not planning to use nuclear weapons to invade Ukraine

Joe Biden has said he does not believe Vladimir Putin is planning to use nuclear weapons if the Russian leader decides to invade Ukraine.

A day after America’s top diplomat said any attack by Russia could go beyond the use of “conventional” weapons, and even claimed it could involve chemical weapons, Mr Biden said he did not believe nuclear weapons would be involved.

Speaking at the White House, where he outlined conversations he had earlier in the day with European leaders, the president was asked his reaction to the fact Mr Putin was reportedly planning to spend the weekend overseeing nuclear drills.

“How do you see that happening? What’s your reaction to that sir,” Mr Biden was asked when he took a handful of questions from reporters.

“Well, I don’t think he is remotely contemplating using nuclear weapons,” said Mr Biden.

He added: “But I do think he is focused on trying to convince the world he has the ability to change the dynamics in Europe in a way that he cannot.”

Mr Biden repeated his claim that the US had intelligence showing Mr Putin had made up his mind to invade Ukraine. Yet, just moments later he said it was “hard to read his mind”.

Asked why he believed the Russian leader had decided to invade, he said: “There’s a significant intelligence capability.”

The comments from the US president were part of the latest barrage of public assertions from Washington about what it says Russia is planning to do.

While the US claims it has the intelligence to support the claims it is making, its officials have said that making them so frequently and so openly is part of an attempt to deter Mr Putin. Russia on the hand denies it has any plans to invade Ukraine, even as thousands of its troops are massed close to the country’s border.

Ukraine Special Forces offer training to civilians

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a speech at the UN, that the US believed any Russian action could go beyond the use of conventional weapons.

“Conventional attacks are not all that Russia plans to inflict upon the people of Ukraine,” said Mr Blinken, told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

He claimed Russia could begin by implementing plans to “manufacture a pretext for its attack”.

“It could be a fabricated so-called terrorist bombing inside Russia, the invented discovery of a mass grave, a staged drone strike against civilians, or a fake — even a real attack — using chemical weapons”.

The reference to nuclear weapons on Friday was a sharp reminder of some of the tensions between the US and the then Soviet Union, during the Cold War. Today, Russia and the US possess the overwhelming number of nuclear weapons.

The Federation of American Scientists estimates that Russia possesses as many as 6,250 such weapons, while the US has 5,600. As many as 150 of the US’s nuclear weapons are located in Nato countries in other Nato countries.

In November, the pro-Russian autocrat Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, which shares its southern border with Ukraine, offered to keep Russian weapons in his country.

“I would offer Putin to return nuclear weapons to Belarus,” Mr Lukashenko said in the interview with Dmitry Kiselyov, the head of Russian state media group Rossiya Segodnya.

The possession of so many nuclear weapons by both the US and Russia, is one of the reasons the US has decided not to sent American troops to Ukraine.

In an interview with NBC News, Mr Biden was asked in what circumstances would he dispatch troops to Ukraine should US citizens be stuck or trapped there in the wake of a Russian invasion.

“There’s not [one],” Mr Biden said. “That’s a world war — when Americans and Russians start shooting at one another, we’re in a very different world than we’ve ever been in.”

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