Vladimir Putin Orders Russian Military Command to Put Nuclear Forces on High Alert

(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

As the attack on Ukraine continues, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his military command to put the country’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert.

Putin cited aggressive statements by NATO leaders and economic sanctions against Moscow.

Speaking on state television Putin directed the Russian defense minister and the chief of the military’s General Staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty.”

“As you can see, not only do Western countries take unfriendly measures against our country in the economic dimension – I mean the illegal sanctions that everyone knows about very well. But also the top officials of leading NATO countries allow themselves to make aggressive statements with regards to our country.”

The Associated Press (AP) reported the alarming step came as street fighting broke out in Ukraine’s second-largest city and Russian troops squeezed strategic ports in the country’s south, advances that appeared to mark a new phase of Russia’s invasion.

A defiant President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukrainian forces were repelling Russian troops advancing on Kyiv as Western nations announced they were shipping more weapons to help the country’s outgunned military.

Putin launched what he called a special military operation before dawn on Thursday, ignoring Western warnings and saying the “neo-Nazis” ruling Ukraine threatened Russia’s security.

Russia’s assault is the biggest on a European state since World War Two and threatens to upend the continent’s post-Cold War order.

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