President Biden has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin not to “change the face of war” by using tactical nuclear or chemical weapons amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. You will change the face of war unlike anything since World War II,” Biden told Scott Pelley on CBS’s “60 Minutes” when asked what he would tell the Russian president if he was considering using the weapons of mass destruction.
If Russia does use the weapons, Biden said, “it’ll be consequential. They’ll become more of a pariah in the world than they ever have been.”
The president declined to specify what the U.S. response would be, but said it will hinge on “the extent of what they do.”
The conflict has stoked international concern about the potential use of nuclear weapons during war, particularly as Russia looks to halt recent Ukrainian gains.
Russian military forces occupy the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, the largest plant in Europe, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused the country of “nuclear terror.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in August that humanity is “one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation” as conflict “with nuclear undertones” grows in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere.
Now, more than half a year into the war, Ukraine has intensified its counteroffensive and pushed Russian forces to retreat from some occupied areas.
Frustration with the war has grown in Russia as Ukraine takes back territory. Russian municipal deputies last week signed a petition calling for Putin to resign, and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov called Russia’s recent retreat in Ukraine “astounding.”
Ukraine’s top prosecutor said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday that the Office of the Prosecutor General has documented 34,000 potential war crimes throughout the conflict and is readying a case on genocide against Russia.
The rest of Biden’s “60 Minutes” interview, his first with the show as president, is set to air in full Sunday night.