Biden cautions Putin about implications of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine

As the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, and the United States pledges ever more massive amounts of monetary support to the latter, President Joe Biden has remained somewhat coy when it comes to the prospect of the conflict turning nuclear, as was evidenced during a television interview set to air Sunday.

Speaking to CBS News’s Scott Pelley for the program 60 Minutes, Biden was asked what consequences might result if Putin unleashed chemical or nuclear weapons in Ukraine, and the president replied, “Dont! Don’t! Don’t,” adding, “It would change the face of war unlike anything since World War Two.”

Consequences unclear

During the exchange, Pelley prefaced his query by stating, “As Ukraine succeeds on the battlefield, Vladimir Putin is becoming embarrassed and pushed into a corner.”

“And I wonder, Mr. President, what you would say to him if he is considering using chemical or tactical nuclear weapons,” Pelley continued.

After suggesting that to do so would transform the conflict into something unprecedented in recent decades, Biden was pressed to explain precisely what consequences he believes Putin would face.

“You think I would tell you if I knew exactly what it would be? Of course I’m not going to tell you. It’ll be consequential. They’ll become more of a pariah in the world than they ever have been. And depending on the extent of what they do, will determine what response will occur,” Biden answered.

Costly commitments

Despite the vagueness of his answer regarding possible ramifications of Russian use of nuclear weapons in months-long conflict, Biden’s continued commitment to bolstering Ukraine’s ability to fight against the onslaught shows no signs of weakening.

Late last month, Biden observed Ukrainian Independence Day by pledging another security assistance package worth roughly $3 billion, according to The Hill.

The outlet noted that the newly-announced support amounts to the single largest tranche of its nature since Russia invaded Ukraine back in February.

As part of the package, Ukraine will receive six National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, Puma drones, laser-guided rocket systems, “Vampire” counter-drone systems, artillery, and more.

“Over the past six months, Ukrainians have inspired the world with their extraordinary courage and dedication to freedom,” Biden said while announcing the aid, adding, “[t]he United States of America is committed to supporting the people of Ukraine as they continue the fight to defend their sovereignty.”

Even so, the true direction and likely duration of the war are things the remain nebulous, at best, and Biden’s characteristically hazy threat about how the U.S. might respond to particular types of escalation by Putin provides little in the way of new clarity.