JOE Biden has warned the world is on the brink of nuclear “Armageddon” for the first time in 60 years.
The Cuban Missile Crisis erupted in 1962 when the Soviet Union responded to a US missile deployment in Turkey by sending ballistic missiles to Cuba – just miles from the US coastline.
It sparked a tense two-week standoff that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.
He warned Russian leader was “not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons, because his military is… significantly underperforming”.
“For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we have a direct threat to the use of nuclear weapons, if in fact things continue down the path they’d been going,” Biden said.
“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
He added: “I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily (use) a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.”
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In the 1962 crisis, President John Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushche came devastatingly close to launching nuclear weapons over the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.
An American U-2 spy plane flying over Cuba on October 14 took a photo of a Soviet SS-4 medium-range ballistic missile being assembled.
Kennedy was briefed and for the next two weeks, the president and his team wrestled with a diplomatic crisis of epic proportions.
The crisis was defused when Soviet ships headed for Cuba turned back in the face of a US naval blockade.
Eventually, the Soviet Union agreed to remove its missiles from Cuba in return for the US promising not to invade Cuba.
And Washington secretly said it would remove the US missiles from Turkey to avoid a repeat of the near-catastrophe.
And in a deranged speech, Putin said he would use “all our means” to defend Russian soil – which he claims now includes four Ukrainian regions he annexed.
In the biggest land grab since World War Two, Russia stole Ukraine’s regions of Donestk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – making up about 15 per cent of the country – after holding sham referendums.
But Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine’s forces are swiftly recapturing more territory in a lightning advance – especially in the south.
He said Kyiv’s forces have recaptured more than 195 square miles and dozens of settlements in Kherson.
And in rare public criticism, Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-backed administration in Kherson, said the “generals and ministers” in Moscow failed to understand the problems on the frontline.
As Putin’s seven-month invasion rapidly unravels, Zelensky called for NATO to launch “pre-emptive strikes” instead of “waiting for Russian nuclear strikes”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov slammed his comments as “an appeal to start yet another world war with unpredictable, monstrous consequences”.
And Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova branded Zelensky a “monster”.
“Everyone on the planet must realize that Zelensky, a puppet pumped with weapons, has turned into a monster whose hands could destroy the planet,” she said in a Telegram post.
Both pointed the finger at the West for “stoking nuclear war” – with Peskov singling out the US and the UK for “directing” Kyiv’s actions.
As desperate Putin ramps up his nuclear threats in the face of his faltering war, the West is weighing up its options for how it could strike back.
Although the US and NATO don’t want to appear weak in the face of a nuclear threat, there are fears some responses could escalate the conflict into a devastating global nuclear war.
Tensions escalated last week as a key ally of Putin called for Russia to unleash a “low-yield nuclear weapon” in Ukraine after humiliated Russian forces retreated from a major battleground in Lyman.
After being encircled by Ukrainian troops, Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the Chechnya region, called for more “drastic measures” to be taken.
In a chilling message, he wrote: “In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.”
As Putin edges the world into the most dangerous moment since his invasion, NATO head Jens Stoltenberg warned of “severe consequences for Russia” if nukes are launched as the reckless move would “change the nature” of the war.