While the world teeters toward nuclear escalation over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, President Joe Biden on Wednesday deviated from his teleprompter to joke that he might start the Third World War.
Biden made his remarks while speaking at the national conference of North America’s Building Trades Unions, an AFL-CIO group for construction workers.
“This war could continue for a long time, but the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine, the Ukrainian people and their fight for freedom,” he said, opening his remarks about the war between Russia and Ukraine.
While addressing the room, Biden joked, “And by the war, if I gotta go to war, I’m going with you guys. I mean it.”
His remarkably careless remark comes after he made a series of gaffes during his visit to Europe, where he suggested to members of the 82nd Airborne that they would be deployed to Ukraine.
He also called Putin a war criminal and expressed support for an international trial, and advocated for a regime change in Russia — some of which he appeared to retract later after being questioned by the media about the U.S. government’s official stance.
“He is a war criminal. But we have to gather the information,” said Biden on the White House lawn Monday. Biden called for a war crimes tribunal against Putin after videos of alleged war crimes surfaced from the city of Bucha, which is located in the outskirts of Kyiv.
On Wednesday, the United States announced it would impose a new round of sanctions on Russia that includes first-time individual sanctions on Putin’s two adult daughters.
In addition, the U.S will sanction Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s wife and daughter, as well as former president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev and current Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
“There’s nothing less happening than major war crimes,” Biden said Wednesday.
“Responsible nations have to come together to hold these perpetrators accountable,” he said. “Together with our allies and our partners, we’re gonna keep raising the economic cost and ratchet up the pain for Putin.”