KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — In a dramatic escalation of East-West tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian nuclear deterrent forces put on high alert Sunday in response to what he called “aggressive statements” by leading NATO powers.
The order means Putin has ordered Russia’s nuclear weapons prepared for increased readiness to launch, raising the threat that the tensions could boil over into a nuclear war. In giving it, the Russian leader also cited hard-hitting financial sanctions imposed by the West against Russia, including Putin himself.
Speaking at a meeting with his top officials, Putin directed the Russian defence minister and the chief of the military’s General Staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty.”
“Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country,” Putin said in televised comments.