The Biden administration has announced another $600 million in military aid to help the Ukrainian army maintain momentum against Russia. In an interview for this Sunday’s “60 Minutes,” Scott Pelley spoke with President Biden about Ukraine’s recent battlefield success — and the dangers that could bring.
“As Ukraine succeeds on the battlefield, Vladimir Putin is becoming embarrassed and pushed into a corner,” Pelley said to President Biden. “And I wonder, Mr. President, what you would say to him if he is considering using chemical or tactical nuclear weapons.”
“Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. You will change the face of war unlike anything since World War II,” Mr. Biden said.
When Pelley asked what the consequences would be if Putin crossed that line, the president wouldn’t say.
“You think I would tell you if I knew exactly what it would be? Of course, I’m not gonna tell you. It’ll be consequential,” Mr. Biden said. “They’ll become more of a pariah in the world than they ever have been. And depending on the extent of what they do will determine what response would occur.”
President Biden and Pelley spoke at the White House, discussing a host of issues beyond the war in Ukraine, including the economy and the upcoming midterm elections.
Mr. Biden also told Pelley about his efforts to avert a national railroad strike. Thursday, the president announced a tentative deal had been reached between the railroads and rail workers’ unions after 20 hours of negotiations at the U.S. Department of Labor.
“We brought business and labor together,” the president told Pelley. “One of the things that happens in negotiations, particularly if they’ve been elongated like these have, is people say and do things where the pride gets engaged as well. And it’s awful hard to back off of some of these things. So, what we did was just say, ‘Look, let’s take a look. Let’s take a look at what’s happening.’ You have a good deal being made for labor. Their income’s gonna go up 24% over the next five years. They’ve worked out the health care piece, they worked out days off. They both sat down, in my view, and they were in the office today saying, ‘Well, we finally figured it out. This is fair on both sides.’ And it took that time to focus.”
“The alternative was just not thinkable,” Mr. Biden continued. “If, in fact, they’d gone on a strike, the supply chains in this country would’ve come to a screeching halt. We would’ve seen a real economic crisis.”
The interview is Mr. Biden’s first sit-down with 60 Minutes since being elected president. 60 Minutes cameras were also with the president on Wednesday as he toured the Detroit Auto Show.
“60 Minutes” premieres its 55th season, Sunday night on CBS at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT.