Russia confirms putting nuclear forces on high combat alert

Moscow says it boosted its defenses after “aggressive statements” from the West

Russia’s ground units, equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as vessels from the Northern and Pacific Fleets, were placed on high combat alert, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Monday. The Russian Navy includes submarines armed with nuclear missiles.

The ministry said the move was made in accordance with the order issued by President Vladimir Putin on Sunday. Putin cited “illegitimate sanctions” against Russia and “aggressive statements” by Western officials, without elaborating.

Many countries, including the US, Britain, and EU member states imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in response to its military operation in Ukraine.

Moscow argued that the attack launched on early Thursday morning was necessary to defend the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which broke off from Ukraine shortly after the 2014 coup in Kiev. Ukraine said the action was entirely unprovoked and appealed to the international community for help.

After several delays, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators are meeting for talks for the first time in Belarus on Monday.

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