VLADIMIR Putin put his nuclear forces on high alert just after warning that the West “could face the greatest consequences in history”.
The Russian tyrant is said to be ‘furious’ that he was unable to rein in Ukraine and has hit out at NATO for its ‘hostile measures’ which he says forced him into the gamble frightening nuclear.
The move means Putin has ordered the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear warheads prepared for launch readiness.
This raises the terrifying possibility that the crisis and miscalculation could turn into nuclear war.
In an address on state television, Putin claimed aggressive statements by NATO leaders and economic sanctions against Moscow had forced his hand.
He said that “not only are Western countries taking hostile measures” such as “illegal sanctions”, but that “senior officials of the main NATO countries allow themselves to make aggressive statements towards our country. “.
Putin said he had now ordered his military command to put Russian deterrent forces – a reference to units including nuclear weapons – on high alert.
“I order the Minister of Defense and the Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces to put the Russian army’s deterrent forces into a special combat duty mode,” Putin said.
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Prior to his invasion of Ukraine, Putin coldly warned that Russia was “one of the strongest nuclear powers today.”
“To anyone who would consider interfering from the outside – if you do, you will face greater consequences than you have faced in history,” he said.
In response, the United States rejected Putin’s claims and his ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, called his decision “unacceptable”.
“It means that President Putin continues to escalate this war in a completely unacceptable way and we must continue to stem his actions as strongly as possible,” she said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Putin’s response was familiar and “we’ve seen him do this time and time again.”
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“At no time was Russia threatened by NATO, Russia was never threatened by Ukraine,” she said.
“All this is a model of President Putin and we will oppose it. »
The NATO secretary general condemned what he called Putin’s “dangerous rhetoric”, adding that his behavior was “irresponsible”.
A senior EU official said the bloc would close its airspace to Russian airlines, fund Ukraine’s arms supply and ban pro-Kremlin media.
This decision has left the world scrambling to decipher what Putin’s decision means.
Russia and the United States generally have nuclear land and submarine forces on high alert and ready for combat at all times.
But bombers and other nuclear-capable aircraft are not.
Russia’s nuclear doctrine was updated in 2020 and allows first-strike attacks if it has “reliable information” about the launch of ballistic missiles targeting its territory.
Pavel Podvig, a Geneva-based analyst and head of Russia’s nuclear forces project, told the Guardian it was “difficult to say” what the order meant, but it could be a “preliminary command “.
Admittedly, this “makes a retaliatory strike possible, but it “does not mean the preparation of a first strike”.
He added that this does not appear to include bombers loaded with weapons and taking off.
A UN spokesman said the idea of nuclear war was unimaginable.
Stéphane Dujarric said “The mere idea of a nuclear conflict is simply inconceivable”.
Former Royal Navy chief Lord West told The Sun that a ‘miscalculation’ could spark a war in Europe – which could escalate into a global war involving the use of nuclear weapons.
The battle for Ukraine continues to rage but as Russian forces falter, disturbing new evidence has emerged about the amount of blood Putin is willing to shed.
Intelligence chiefs have said he is ready for 50,000 of his soldiers to be sacrificed in the war, reports the Mirror.
The grim prediction comes as the Russian Health Ministry prepares for a massive medical emergency.
Authorities are looking for doctors with a number of specialties from across Russia to come forward, according to ITN.
Medical organizations must be ready “to quickly get involved in activities aimed at saving lives and preserving the health of people in Russia”, the ministry insisted.
On a more optimistic note, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has agreed to peace talks with Russia.
Delegations from both countries will meet at the border with Belarus, he said.
On the fourth day of the invasion, Ukrainian heroes and civilians scramble to repel the Russian invaders.
It comes after a day of fighting during which Russian troops failed to capture the capital.
Shells rained down across Ukraine after the invasion – as the battle for the capital, Kiev, stretched into a fourth day.
The city woke up to more air raid sirens after missile attacks turned the skies orange during what Zelenskyy called a “brutal” night.
And Ukrainian forces are battling Russian invaders on the streets of Kharkiv and maintaining “full control”, according to local commanders.
The Ukrainian government claims to have killed 3,500 Russian soldiers while there were 240 civilian deaths on its side.
As his forces meet stiff resistance from Ukrainians defending their homeland, the Kremlin strongman must be “furious” at the lack of progress, a former NATO defense chief has said.
“Putin is furious, he thought the whole war would be easy and everything would be done in 1-4 days,” tweeted Riho Terras, who is also the former commander of the Estonian Armed Forces.
He said Ukrainian intelligence believed the Russians had no “tactical plan” to deal with a retaliating enemy.
“The Russians are reeling from the fierce resistance they encountered,” Terras said.
Earlier, terrified civilians were told to take shelter in subways and basements as darkness fell on Saturday evening.
Residents were warned that the burning depot was emitting smoke and toxic fumes and were asked to keep their windows closed and to take shelter.
Russian missiles also hit a nuclear waste storage site on the outskirts of Kiev, the Ukrainian State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate confirmed.
There were widespread fears that the Russian military would intensify its efforts to seize Kiev this weekend, targeting business enterprises in a bid to destroy Ukrainian morale.
A city-wide curfew is being enforced in the capital as authorities hunt down “sabotage and reconnaissance groups”, the Kyiv mayor has said.
The EU executive said Europe now faces its biggest humanitarian crisis in years – and the number of Ukrainians displaced by war could total more than seven million.
Janez Lenarcic, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, said: “We are witnessing what could become the biggest humanitarian crisis on our European continent for many, many years. The needs are increasing right now.
“So for the humanitarian situation as a whole, the currently projected number of displaced Ukrainians is over 7 million. »
The UN Security Council will hold another emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss the looming humanitarian crisis.
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Putin’s chilling threat with nuclear force on ALERT after warning West could face ‘worst consequences in history’ – Reuters