U.S. President Joe Biden has expressed scepticism in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertion that he had no plans to use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine. Speaking in an interview on Oct. 27 with the NewsNation TV network, Biden said:

“If he has no intention, why does he keep talking about it? Why is he talking about the ability to use a tactical nuclear weapon?”

Putin had earlier the same day downplayed a nuclear confrontation with the West, insisting that Russia had only reacted to nuclear “blackmail” from Western leaders and had not threatened to use nuclear weapons.

“He’s been very dangerous in how he’s approached this,” Biden stated.

“Let me just say: Russia would be making an incredibly serious mistake for it to use a tactical nuclear weapon,”he added. “I’m not guaranteeing you that it’s a false-flag operation yet; I don’t know. But it would be a serious, serious mistake.”

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The West has interpreted statements by Putin and other Russian officials in recent weeks that Russia could use nuclear weapons to defend its territorial integrity as implicit threats to use such weapons to defend four regions of Ukraine that Russia claims to have annexed in recent weeks.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby suggested in an interview with CNN that Russia may be considering using a so-called “dirty bomb” while creating a pretext to blame Ukraine. However, he claimed that there were still no indications in the U.S. that this was the case.

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“They often blame others for what they are doing themselves or about to do. So that’s why we have to take that seriously,” Kirby said about the accusations made by Putin.

Russian allegations that Ukraine could detonate a “dirty bomb” to frame Moscow have recently been the centre of attention on the global stage. Kyiv and the West have dismissed these claims as unfounded and as a potential “false-flag” operation intended to create an excuse for Russian escalation in its ongoing war.

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Putin repeated the charge in his speech in Moscow on Thursday, Oct. 27.

“Kyiv is seeking some kind of nuclear incident to inflate a new round of struggle against Russia,” Putin asserted.

“It’s not for nothing that we talked about the ‘dirty bomb’ that Kyiv is creating, we even know where it is being made,” the Russian leader argued. “I instructed Shoigu to call his foreign counterparts and warn them about the threat of this provocation,” Putin went on, referring to his defense minister’s sudden flurry of phone calls in recent days, which alarmed Western capitals.

As Russia’s military retreats on the battlefield and unease grows at home, the Kremlin has fueled growing nuclear fears by repeatedly implying that it would be willing to use nuclear weapons to defend annexation of territory where Ukrainian forces are gaining strength.

Last month, Putin also warned that if Russia’s “territorial integrity” was threatened, “we will certainly use all the means at our disposal” to respond, adding that “it’s not a bluff.”

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