Rhetoric is increasing from Russian President Vladimir Putin and his defense ministers to reduce the United States and Europe "into nuclear ashes," but President Joe Biden is not making it clear that a nuclear strike against Ukraine or NATO states, or even the United States, would be met with a quick response, Rep. Mike Turner said Sunday.
"The president wrote an op-ed in The New York Times, but I'm not certain Putin reads [that]," the Ohio Republican said on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures." "That is how the president chose to answer these and there would be severe consequences."
Putin does know not to attack the United States or NATO, as "our nuclear weapons in the UK, France, the NATO prepositioned weapons certainly would be devastating to his nation in a response, but what he doesn't know is that it is not going to be OK for him to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine."
Putin's rhetoric must be deescalated, and the so-called "nuclear option" for Ukraine would be then taken off the table, Turner added.
The lawmaker, along with Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas, on Friday sent Biden a letter, commenting that "the U.S. cannot be a passive spectator as Russia uses nuclear intimidation."
"If Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the U.S. must act," their letter reads, reports The Washington Times. "This must be clear to Russia to deter their use of nuclear weapons in this unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine."
Earlier this month, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that by sending weapons to Ukraine, the Biden administration is "deliberately and diligently pouring fuel on the fire," by sending arms to Ukraine.
The day before Peskov's statements, a pro-Putin Russian lawmaker said in a state TV interview that Russia's military has the capability of destroying "the entire East Coast of the U.S.," and that the "mushroom cloud will be visible from Mexico."
But when show host Maria Bartiromo asked Turner if there is a direct threat on Texas or Miami, the congressman replied that Putin does not see a "deterrent threat from the United States" that shows there would be an "unbelievable response" from NATO and the United States.
"[Biden] needs to make certain that he stands behind our capabilities and that the use of nuclear weapons by Putin would, is not acceptable in Ukraine, throughout NATO or obviously here to the United States," said Turner, adding that the president does not have a plan for responding to Putin.
"That is what we're asking for," the congressman said. "We have Article V commitments. We certainly said we would respond overwhelmingly if the United States was attacked. What we're not hearing is the president of the United States reaffirming this."
Meanwhile Congress next week will start marking up the National Defense Authorization Act, but Turner said Biden's budget "does not adequately fund" what is needed to replenish the United States' stores, what the country needs to do to reinvest what was lent to Ukraine, or, "looking back to modernization, make certain we have the advanced weaponry necessary to defend the United States."
The House will also likely respond as it takes up the act about how the United States will respond to threats of Russian aggression, support for Ukraine, or the looming threat from China, and "all of those mean we'll have to make different choices how we invest in our military," said Turner.
The congressman on Sunday also discussed the meeting earlier this month between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, calling it "embarrassing" that once again, "a member of Biden's cabinet sat across from Chinese officials who down-dressed them … this is not a time when the United States should passively accept being chastised by China."
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