The White House slammed Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threat against Ukraine as ‘irresponsible rhetoric’ after the Russian president accelerated his war effort on Wednesday, as world leaders were gathered in New York City for the annual meeting of the United Nations.
Putin’s actions came as Russia suffered humiliating losses on the battlefield and as President Joe Biden prepares to address the assembly, where the war in the Ukraine is the top topic.
Biden’s administration warned it would respond as needed to any nuclear threats and said Putin’s ‘partial mobiliization’ of 300,000 more troops showed his war effort was ‘struggling.’
‘We always have to take this kind of rhetoric seriously,’ White House spokesman John Kirby told ABC’s Good Morning America of Putin’s nuclear threat.
‘It’s irresponsible rhetoric for a nuclear power to talk that way. But it’s not atypical for how he’s been talking the last seven months and we take it seriously. We’re monitoring as best we can, their strategic posture, so that if we have to, we can alter ours. We’ve seen no indication that that’s required right now,’ he added.
The White House slammed Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threat against Ukraine as ‘irresponsible rhetoric’; the Russian President’s remarks came as President Joe Biden (above) prepares to address the UN General Assembly on Wednesday
In a rare speech to the Russian nation on Wednesday morning, President Vladimir Putin insisted he would use ‘all means’ necessary to defend swathes of territory seized or set to be annexed by Kremlin forces in the Ukraine
In a rare speech to the Russian nation on Wednesday morning, Putin insisted he would use ‘all means’ necessary to defend swathes of territory seized or set to be annexed by Kremlin forces in the Ukraine. And he then issued his threat to use nuclear weapons.
‘If there is a threat to the territorial integrity of our country, and in protecting our people we will certainly use all means to us – and I’m not bluffing,’ he said during his televised address.
Putin stopped short of calling for full, national draft but instead announced a ‘partial mobilization’ of people with military experience, which he said was ‘necessary’ as the Western allies had ‘crossed all lines’ by providing sophisticated weapons to Ukraine.
The White House said it was a sign Putin was struggling in his war.
‘It’s definitely a sign that he’s struggling and we know that,’ Kirby said.
‘He has suffered tens of thousands of casualties. He has terrible morale, unit cohesion on the battlefield, command and control has still not been solved, he’s got desertion problems and he’s forcing the wounded back into the fight. So clearly manpower is a problem for him. He feels like he’s on his back foot, particularly in that northeast area – the Dumbas,’ he noted.
Speaking from behind a wooden desk, Putin told Russian viewers on state-controlled television: ‘In its aggressive anti-Russian policies, the West has crossed all lines.
‘We constantly hear threats against our people and some irresponsible politicians in the West are talking about not just providing Ukraine with long-range military systems that will be able to hit Russia – that is already happening, we’re talking about the border regions, in Belgorod and systems using strategic drones, planes, doing reconnaissance across the south.
‘There are plans in Washington and Brussels to move the military action on to Russian territory.
‘There are not just talking about Russia being destroyed on the battlefield, they are talking about political, cultural, and all other types of sovereignty with complete pillage. Now they’re talking about nuclear blackmail.’
‘We always have to take this kind of rhetoric seriously,’ White House spokesman John Kirby told ABC’s Good Morning America of Putin’s nuclear threat
Putin’s threat comes as the war in Ukraine is going badly for Russia
British and European allies joined America in saying Putin’s aggressive moves were a sign his war efforts were failing.
A Ukrainian counter-attack last week saw Russian forces in the north-west driven back over the Ukrainian border.
Biden himself has warned Putin not to use nuclear weapons.
‘Don’t. Don’t. Don’t,’ Biden said in an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes that aired Sunday. ‘You will change the face of war unlike anything since World War II.’
Putin, in his remarks, also endorsed Kremlin-backed referendums in occupied territories that will allow him to declare those areas as part of Russia. That annexation could happen next week.
Analysts worry that Putin would then use those sham elections to say any further Ukrainian military action on those areas would be considered an attack on Russia itself.
‘That is Ukrainian territory,’ Kirby said Wednesday morning. ‘It doesn’t matter what sham referenda they put in place or what vote they hold. It’s still Ukrainian.’
Meanwhile, Biden is preparing to address the gathering of world leaders at the United Nations where he is expected to issue a call to unity to stand against Putin’s ‘naked aggression.’
‘He´ll offer a firm rebuke of Russia´s unjust war in Ukraine and make a call to the world to continue to stand against the naked aggression that we´ve seen these past several months,’ White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in previewing the president’s address on Tuesday.
‘He will underscore the importance of strengthening the United Nations and reaffirm core tenets of its charter at a time when a permanent member of the Security Council has struck at the very heart of the charter by challenging the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty.’
Putin said he was not ‘bluffing’ after he issued his nuclear threat
Russia has announced plans for referendums to take place in four regions of Ukraine it either fully or partially occupied – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson
Biden will also address food and energy shortages that were a result of Putin’s war.
Russia is now almost seven months into what was intended to be a days-long war in Ukraine, and the situation for its troops is becoming increasingly desperate.
Having been forced to retreat from Kyiv in the early months of fighting after its advance stalled, the Kremlin’s war machine instead focused its efforts on ‘liberating’ the eastern Donbas region.