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Biden says he doesn’t think Putin will use nuclear weapons in Ukraine war

An image showing Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting to discuss the Ukrainian peace process at the German federal Chancellery on October 19, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.

Adam Berry | Getty Images News | Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden said he doesn’t think Russian President Vladimir Putin will use nuclear weapons despite repeated threats to do so — even as the Russian leader continues to press on in the war in Ukraine.

“Well, I don’t think he will,” Biden said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that was aired Tuesday. “But I think that it’s irresponsible for him to talk about it.”

Putin has indirectly threatened to use nuclear weapons. In a televised speech in September, he announced a partial military mobilization and said he would “certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people.” He added that he was not bluffing.

The White House has repeatedly said it takes Russia’s threats of nuclear war seriously but does not see indications of a present threat. Biden on Thursday warned of the “prospect of Armageddon” if Russia were to use nuclear weapons.

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“The whole point I was making was, it could leader to just a horrible outcome,” Biden said Tuesday referencing his previous comments. “And not because anybody intends to turn it into a world war or anything, but… once you use a nuclear weapon, the mistakes that can be made, the miscalculations. Who knows what would happen?”

Biden said he believed Putin is a “rational actor who’s miscalculated significantly.”

He clarified that he believes Putin is rational but his objectives are not, and added that he believes the Russian leader has committed war crimes in Ukraine.

“He’s acted brutally. I think he’s committed war crimes.”

CNBC Politics

Read more of CNBC’s politics coverage:

On Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden said: “I think he thought … he was going to be welcomed with open arms. That this was, this has been, the home of Mother Russia and Kyiv and, therefore, he was going to welcomed.”

“I think he just totally miscalculated it.”

Leaders of the Group of 7 met virtually Tuesday morning with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and agreed they would continue to back the besieged country against Russian aggression for “as long as it takes.”

In a statement released after the meeting G-7 leaders said Russia will face “severe consequences” if it uses chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

Biden told CNN he has no intention of meeting with Putin at the upcoming G-20 summit but would be open to talking if Putin approached him there about releasing imprisoned American Brittney Griner.

Any meeting with Putin regarding Ukraine, as the G-7 agreed to earlier Tuesday, would not happen without Ukrainian officials present, he added.

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