“Whoever tries to hinder us, and even more so, to create threats to our country, to our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate. And it will lead you to such consequences that you have never encountered in your history.” These were the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin last week after announcing the military operation in Ukraine.
Putin has now ordered Russia’s military to put its deterrence forces, which include nuclear weapons, on “special alert”, telling defence chiefs it was because of “aggressive statements” by the West, after his invasion of Ukraine was condemned, BBC News reports.
“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,” Putin said.
This decision was described as an unacceptable escalation according to US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who said “President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable and we have to continue to stem his actions in the strongest possible way”.
On the other hand, Boris Johnson said Putin’s announcement is a “distraction” from the “difficulties that the Russian forces are experiencing” in Ukraine, The Independent states.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s office announced that negotiations between Kyiv (capital of Ukraine) and Moscow would be held on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border without preconditions on Monday.
“We agreed that the Ukrainian delegation would meet with the Russian delegation without preconditions on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, near the Pripyat River,” Zelensky said in a statement.
“I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting, but let them try … So that later not a single citizen of Ukraine has any doubt that I, as president, tried to stop the war,” he adds.