Putin puts Russian nuclear deterrent on alert | Photo credits: Shutterstock / Frederic Legrand – COMEO
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday ordered his military command to place Russia’s nuclear deterrent force on combat alert, in response to what he said were aggressive statements from NATO member states and economic sanctions against Moscow.
“I order the Minister of Defense and the Chief of Staff to put the Russian army’s deterrent forces on a special regime of combat service,” Vladimir Putin told Russian television.
“As you can see, not only Western countries are taking unfriendly measures against our country in the economic sphere – I mean the illegal sanctions that everyone knows very well – but senior officials from major NATO countries allow themselves to make aggressive statements about our country,” he said.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Vladimir Putin was knowingly fabricating threats to justify his attack.
“We have seen it done many times. Russia has never been under threat from NATO, nor under threat from Ukraine,” she said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg denounced “dangerous rhetoric” and irresponsible behavior on the part of the Russian president.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the United Nations, castigated a “totally unacceptable” escalation. “We must continue to limit his actions in the strongest possible terms,” she told CBS.
(Report Dmitri Antonov, with Doina Chiacu in Washington; written by Jean-Stéphane Brosse)