Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has sharply criticized President Biden’s comment that the world faces the prospect of Armageddon after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning that Moscow could use “all available means” to bolster his war effort in Ukraine.
Mr. Biden’s comment at a fundraiser Thursday was “reckless,” Mr. Pompeo said. “When you hear the president talking about Armageddon at random — as a random thought just musing at a fundraiser — that is a terrible risk to the American people.”
“If he truly believes that, he ought to be out talking to us in a serious way,” the former secretary of state told “Fox News Sunday.”
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby sought Sunday to clarify Mr. Biden’s comment.
The White House believes “the stakes are very high right now” with Russia’s struggles in Ukraine, but Mr. Biden’s warning of possible “Armageddon” wasn’t about an imminent threat, Mr. Kirby told ABC’s “This Week.”
Mr. Biden said Mr. Putin was “not joking when he talks about the use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons” and that “we have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis” in the 1960s.
The president was apparently referencing a threat Mr. Putin made on Sept. 21 upon ordering Russia’s first mobilization of civilian reserves since World War II.
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will, without doubt, use all available means to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff,” Mr. Putin said in a televised address, according to Reuters.
After Mr. Putin’s remark, Secretary of State Antony Blinken encouraged members of the United Nations Security Council to call on Mr. Putin to stop making “reckless nuclear threats.”
Mr. Kirby said Mr. Biden’s comment about Armageddon was “not based on new or fresh intelligence or new indications that Mr. Putin has made a decision to use nuclear weapons and, quite frankly, we don’t have any indication that he has made that kind of decision.”
“Nor have we seen anything that would give us pause to reconsider our own strategic nuclear posture in our efforts to defend our own national security interests and those of our allies and partners,” Mr. Kirby said. He noted Mr. Biden’s promise that “neither we nor our allies are going to be intimidated by” Mr. Putin’s threats.
In his appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Pompeo took aim at Mr. Biden’s foreign policy more broadly. He suggested that the Armageddon comment could “demonstrate maybe one of the greatest foreign policy failures of the last decades, which was the failure to deter Vladimir Putin in the same way that the Trump administration did for four years.”
• Guy Taylor can be reached at email@example.com.
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