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President Biden had little to say about the possibility of nuclear war, in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering his nuclear forces on high alert over the weekend and the Russian ambassador essentially doubling down on that decision by saying it was done “because we saw some disturbing, disturbing statements from NATO leaders in relation to Russia, so that is a kind of deterrent.”
Last week, Putin warned other countries any attempt to interfere in his unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”
Asked by a reporter Monday at a black history event should Americans be worried about nuclear war, Biden replied with a simple “no.”
Overall, the Biden administration seemingly refuses to take the threat seriously, with Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich reporting, “The view from the White House is nuclear war cannot be won and should not be fought, so they’re not going to engage in any talk about it.”
A position that stops just short of sticking fingers in your ears and yelling ‘la, la, la.’
There is also concerns that Biden is leading from behind, as European leaders set the pace in imposing tougher sanctions on Putin. The administration has opted not to target the sale of Russian gas and oil, which experts see as the most crippling of all sanctions. White House press secretary Jen Psaki was clear that concerns over higher gas prices is a factor here. At the same time, the president refuses to step up domestic production.
Psaki was asked at Monday’s briefing, “In light of President Putin putting Russia’s nuclear forces into ‘special combat readiness,’ has the United States changed its nuclear posture?”
“Well, let me first start by saying that throughout the crisis, Russia and President Putin have falsely alleged that it is under threat, including from Ukraine, including from NATO,” Psaki replied. “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.”
Despite dealing with an irrational actor in Putin, the president’s spokesperson offered a rational argument in the face of the threat.
“We are assessing President Putin’s directive and, at this time, we see no reason to change our own alert levels,” she explained. “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.
“So we have not seen reason to change our alert levels and we see, obviously, significant danger in escalatory rhetoric.”
RUSSIA: Jen Psaki says there is “significant danger in escalatory rhetoric” and that the US will “not indulge” Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons, and are declining to increase their own nuclear alert level. pic.twitter.com/dfhdvtvsRx
— Forbes (@Forbes) February 28, 2022
On the note of miscalculations, a senior U.S. Defense official told the Associated Press that Putin is “potentially putting in play forces that, if there’s a miscalculation, could make things much, much more dangerous.”
Defense Department press secretary John Kirby was asked at a briefing Monday if the Pentagon has seen any changes from Russia in regard to their nuclear posture.
“On the nuclear question, I have nothing to confirm these reports that they’ve changed their staffing,” he said. “What I would tell you is we’ve seen Mr. Putin’s announcement. We believe it’s as unnecessary as it is escalatory. But we’re reviewing and analyzing that announcement. And I would only just tell you that as we continue to review and analyze and monitor, that Secretary Austin is comfortable with the strategic deterrent posture of the United States and our ability to defend the homeland, our allies, and our partners.”
“It’s as unnecessary as it is escalatory.” – @PentagonPresSec John Kirby reacts to Putin’s announcement Russia boosted staff at some of their nuclear sites. pic.twitter.com/rqegnG7cZo
— CNN (@CNN) February 28, 2022
Kirby also said that Putin has now moved three-quarters of his resources, 120,000 of the 160,0000 troops amassed at the border, into Ukraine. There are reports of a massive convoy closing in on the capital city of Kyiv.
A Russian state TV anchor offered up this startling assessment in regard to nuclear conflict, “Our submarines alone can launch more than 500 nuclear warheads, which guarantees the destruction of the US and NATO for good measure. The principle is: why do we need the world if Russia won’t be in it?”
That was an echo of what Putin himself said in a 2018 documentary, according to The Hill, stating that should another nation try to “annihilate Russia, we have the legal right to respond. Yes, it will be a catastrophe for humanity and for the world. But I’m a citizen of Russia and its head of state. Why do we need a world without Russia in it?”
Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave updated guidance on responding to a nuclear explosion that was head-scratching, to say the least.
“Nuclear explosions can cause significant damage and casualties from blast, heat, and radiation but you can keep your family safe by knowing what to do and being prepared if it occurs,” the federal agency noted.
“Go to the basement or middle of the building. Stay away from the outer walls and roof. Try to maintain a distance of at least six feet between yourself and people who are not part of your household. If possible, wear a mask if you’re sheltering with people who are not a part of your household,” FEMA continued. “Continue to practice social distancing by wearing a mask and by keeping a distance of at least six feet between yourself and people who not (sic) part of your household.”
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