President Biden said Americans should not be worried about a potential nuclear conflict on Monday, while White House press secretary Jen Psaki decried Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “escalatory rhetoric” regarding the use of nuclear weapons.
Putin ordered the Russian military to put nuclear forces in a “special regime of combat duty” on Sunday, however it was not clear if the directive had any practical effect, according to the Associated Press. The implied threat comes amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and economic sanctions on Russia imposed by the U.S. and European nations.
On Monday as the president and First Lady Jill Biden exited a White House event marking Black History Month, CBS News reporter Nancy Cortes asked the president whether Americans should be worried about nuclear war.
“No,” Biden responded.
As he departed from making remarks at the White House about Black History Month, I asked @POTUS if Americans should be worried about a nuclear war. His response: “No.”
— Nancy Cordes (@nancycordes) February 28, 2022
Shortly afterwards, a reporter asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki if the U.S. has changed its “nuclear posture” in response to Putin’s directive.
“Neither the United States nor NATO has any desire or intention for conflict with Russia,” Psaki responded. “We think provocative rhetoric like this regarding nuclear weapons is dangerous, adds to the risk of miscalculation, should be avoided, and we will not indulge in it.”
“We are assessing President Putin’s directive and at this time we see no reason to change our alert levels,” Psaki added, warning however of the “significant danger in escalatory rhetoric.”