Joe Biden has said the world is at its highest risk of a “nuclear Armageddon” since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis as the war in Ukraine continues – but what’s the meaning behind the term?

The US president made the warning during a meeting with Democrat Party donors on Thursday (October 6).

Biden claimed Vladimir Putin wasn’t “joking” when he threatened nuclear strikes after Russia suffered severe casualties in Ukraine.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

‘Nuclear Armageddon’ meaning explained

As per Dictionary.com, Armageddon refers to a “highly destructive conflict between opposite forces.”

In the New Testament, Armageddon refers to a place where “kings of the earth under demonic leadership will wage war on the forces of God at the end of history.”

A ‘nuclear Armageddon’ – which could also be referred to as a ‘nuclear apocalypse’ or ‘nuclear warfare’ – refers to a scenario in which nuclear weapons cause global annhilation.

Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction and can cause substantial damage with long-lasting radiological consequences. To date, nuclear weapons have only been used twice in war – when the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to bring an end to the Second World War.

Biden warns of highest nuclear risk in 60 years

On Thursday, Biden warned the risk of a “nuclear Armageddon” was at its highest since 1962.

Speaking to fellow party donors, Biden said: “We have a direct threat to the use of nuclear weapons if things continue down the path they’ve been going. We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since [former US president] Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a 13-day conflict between the US and Soviet Union that broke out when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev installed nuclear weapons in Cuba, within range of the US.

The conflict is considered the closest two nations have come to instigating a global nuclear war.

Zelenskyy weighs in after Biden comments

Biden’s comments come after he repeatedly warned of potential nuclear strikes, something the EU has echoed.

“Where does [Putin] find a way out?” Biden added. “Where does he find himself in a position that he doesn’t not only lose face but lose significant power within Russia?”

As reported by Al Jazeera, however, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has claimed Putin understands the world would “never forgive” Russia if it instigated a nuclear strike.

“[Putin] understands that, after the use of nuclear weapons, he would be unable to preserve, so to speak, his life. I’m confident of that,” Zelenskyy said.

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