Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his army command to place nuclear-armed forces on excessive alert on Sunday as Ukrainian fighters defending the town of Kharkiv mentioned that they had repelled an assault by invading Russian troops.
America responded by saying Putin was escalating the struggle in a “completely unacceptable” means.
On the fourth day of the most important assault on a European state since World Conflict Two, the Ukrainian president’s workplace mentioned negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow could be held on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border. They might meet with out preconditions, it mentioned.
As missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities, 1000’s of Ukrainian civilians, primarily ladies and youngsters, had been fleeing from the Russian assault into neighbouring nations.
The capital Kyiv was nonetheless in Ukrainian authorities arms, with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy rallying his folks regardless of Russian shelling of civilian infrastructure.
However Putin, who has described the invasion as a “particular army operation”, thrust an alarming new ingredient into play on Sunday when he ordered Russia’s deterrence forces – a reference to models which embody nuclear arms – onto excessive alert.
He cited aggressive statements by NATO leaders and financial sanctions imposed by the West towards Moscow.
“As you possibly can see, not solely do Western nations take unfriendly measures towards our nation within the financial dimension – I imply the unlawful sanctions that everybody is aware of about very effectively – but additionally the highest officers of main NATO nations enable themselves to make aggressive statements almost about our nation,” Putin mentioned on state tv.
Putin beforehand referred to his nuclear arsenal in a speech previous to the beginning of the invasion on Thursday, saying Russia’s response to any nation that attempted to hinder the operation could be speedy and carry “penalties that you’ve by no means encountered in your historical past.”
France’s International Minister retorted the identical day that when making such threats Putin ought to keep in mind that NATO too was a nuclear alliance.
Ukraine’s overseas minister Dmytro Kuleba mentioned Putin’s deterrence order was an try to stress Kyiv throughout talks however it might not be cowed. If Putin used nuclear weapons towards Ukraine it might be a disaster for the world, he mentioned.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield advised CBS: “President Putin is constant to escalate this struggle in a way that’s completely unacceptable and we’ve got to proceed to stem his actions within the strongest doable means”.
In different developments, Russian troops blew up a pure fuel pipeline in Kharkiv earlier than dawn, a Ukrainian state company mentioned, sending a burning cloud up into the darkness.
Each Ukraine’s fuel pipeline operator and Kremlin-controlled vitality large Gazprom mentioned the transit of Russian fuel by way of Ukraine, very important for Europe’s vitality wants, was unaffected.
Ukraine’s Western allies ratcheted up their response to Russia’s land, sea and air invasion with an virtually blanket ban on Russian airways utilizing European airspace.
And within the strongest financial sanctions but on Moscow, the US and Europe mentioned on Saturday they might banish massive Russian banks from the principle international funds system and introduced different measures geared toward limiting Moscow’s use of a $630 billion struggle chest of central financial institution reserves.