Putin orders Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert in response to sanctions; US condemns ‘escalation’

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Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the specter of the Ukrainian invasion escalating to unprecedented levels Sunday after putting select forces on high alert.

Putin met with his top officials following the news that NATO members were imposing greater sanctions upon Russia and financial institutions within the nation. The announcement that certain Russian banks would be locked out of SWIFT drove Putin, in part, to escalate the readiness of special units within his military, the Associated Press reported.

“Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere,” Putin began during a televised address, “but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country.”

As a response, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, “President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable. And we have to continue to condemn his actions in the most strong, strongest possible way.”

Putin specifically ordered his nuclear forces put on high alert known as “special regime of combat duty.” It is believed that this may involve increased readiness of nuclear-capable bombers or other aircraft as Russian land and submarine-based forces, and American for that matter, are always on alert.

Former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler spoke to Fox News and assessed, “He is right now threatening a nuclear escalation. This is a veiled threat – or maybe not such a veiled threat – he just met with his chief of general staff and minister of defense. He is escalating the conflict into the nuclear domain in order to de-escalate – that is topple Kyiv’s regime quickly.”

Hans Kristensen, a nuclear analyst with the Federation of American Scientists came to similar conclusions, suggesting that if Putin is raising the readiness of nuclear bombers, the United States may be forced into a position to do the same.

Putin has reportedly engaged in other escalations besides his nuclear forces as continued resistance from Ukrainians has left him “furious.” There are suggestions that Putin may be preparing to deploy “one of the most feared weapons systems” of his conventional armory as the cost of a prolonged engagement climbs and munitions stores are depleted.

It has also been reported that Russia has threatened Finland and Sweden with military consequences if they attempt to join NATO.

With this heightened state of preparedness looming, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy still has a delegation planned to meet with Russian counterparts reportedly waiting at the border of Belarus. Zelenskyy, who has remained in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv throughout the conflict, has provided updates to his citizens and the world of the invasion.

“The past night was tough- more shelling, more bombing of residential areas and civilian infrastructure,” Zelenskyy said according to CBS News. “There is not a single facility in the country that the occupiers wouldn’t consider as admissible targets.”

Zelenskyy aims to have Russia investigated by an international tribunal for war crimes and to have them lose their place on the United Nations Security Council over what he described as “state terrorism.”


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