By Ailan Evans
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Sunday that Russian nuclear forces would be placed on high alert in response to Western economic sanctions, marking an escalation of tensions between Russia and the West over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking with top military officials Sunday, Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to be placed on a “special regime of combat duty,” the Associated Press reported. While it’s unclear exactly what this will entail, the move will increase Russia’s readiness to deploy nuclear weapons.
Putin said the move comes in response to economic sanctions against Russia’s central bank and financial sector levied by the United States and European Union member states, the AP reported. NATO allies agreed Saturday to remove Russia from SWIFT, a global financial partnership and messaging system. (RELATED: Russia Deploys ‘Data-Wiping Malware’ To Cripple Ukrainian Government Systems)
“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, according to the AP.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield condemned Putin’s actions as an escalation of tensions jeopardizing already-fraught relations between Russia and the West.
“President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable,” Thomas-Greenfield told CBS’ “Face The Nation” on Sunday. “And we have to continue to condemn his actions in the strongest possible way.”
The White House did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.