President Joe Biden on Monday said that Americans should not fear the prospect of a nuclear war with Russia as White House officials indicated that the United States hasn’t changed the status of its nuclear forces.
The comments come after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that he would ready his country’s strategic defense forces, which oversee some of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
While attending an event Monday, Biden was asked by a reporter if Americans should be worried about nuclear war. Biden simply responded with “No.”
Putin, a day earlier, said the move to increase the readiness of the nuclear forces was done after the United States, the European Union, and other nations imposed punishing sanctions and other penalties against Russia’s leadership.
On Monday, the Kremlin raised the specter of nuclear war, with officials announcing that Russia’s nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines, and long-range bombers had all been put on high alert, following Putin’s orders over the weekend. Putin around the same time also denounced the United States and its allies as an “empire of lies.”
“We are assessing President Putin’s directive. And at this time, we see no reason to change our own alert levels,” Psaki told reporters on Monday. “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,” she added.
Psaki also said that the United States will not attempt to escalate the rhetoric against Russia in light of the apparent heightened nuclear threat.
“It is important to remember—even over the course of the last several months and years—when we had significant disagreements with Russia on several issues, the United States and Russia have long agreed that nuclear use will have devastating consequences,” she commented.
Over the past weekend, there were calls by some members of Congress to impose and enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which would mean that U.S. and NATO forces could potentially directly attack Russian planes.
Psaki also told reporters that the Biden administration and NATO is not considering a no-fly zone, calling it “definitely escalatory.”
Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, also called on NATO to implement it because it would allow Ukraine to “defeat the aggressor with much less blood.”
Echoing a statement made by Biden during a speech on sanctions last week, Psaki also reiterated the United States won’t send its military into Ukraine.
“We are not going to have a military war with Russia with U.S. troops, and he thinks it’s vitally important, and first and foremost important, to be direct with the public about that,” the press secretary said.