The possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin employing tactical nuclear weapons is “real,” according to US President Joe Biden, only days after Russia deployed such weapons in Belarus.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced last week that his country has begun receiving Russian tactical nuclear weapons, some of which he claims are three times more destructive than the atomic bombs detonated on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
This is Russia’s first deployment of such warheads – shorter-range, less powerful nuclear bombs capable of being employed on the battlefield – outside of Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The United States has said it has no intention of altering its stance on strategic nuclear weapons in response to the deployment and has not seen any signs that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon.
On Saturday, Biden called Putin’s announcement that Russia had deployed its first tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus “absolutely irresponsible”.
But on Monday, June 19 while talking to group of donors in California, he said the nuclear threat is real.
“When I was out here about two years ago saying I worried about the Colorado river drying up, everybody looked at me like I was crazy,” Biden said.
“They looked at me like when I said I worry about Putin using tactical nuclear weapons. It’s real.”
The Russian deployment of nuclear weapons is being watched closely by the United States and its allies as well as by China, which has repeatedly cautioned against the use of nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine.