Vladimir Putin has ordered his military command to put Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert.
The president cited aggressive statements by NATO leaders and economic sanctions against Moscow.
Speaking on state television, he said: “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.”
The order raises the threat Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could lead to the use of nuclear weapons.
The Russian leader this week threatened to retaliate harshly against any nations that intervened directly in the conflict in Ukraine.
Currently no NATO troops are on the ground in Ukraine, but the alliance is sending support through weapons and aid to the country.
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