KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — In a dramatic escalation of East-West tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian nuclear forces put on high alert Sunday in response to what he called “aggressive statements” by leading NATO powers.
The directive to put Russia’s nuclear weapons in an increased state of readiness for launch raised fears that the crisis could boil over into nuclear warfare, whether by design or mistake.
Putin’s step is “potentially putting in play forces that, if there’s a miscalculation, could make things much, much more dangerous,” said a senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Amid the mounting tensions, Ukraine announced that a delegation would meet with Russian officials for talks. But the Kremlin’s ultimate aims in Ukraine — and what steps might be enough to satisfy Moscow — remained unclear.
Hours after Putin’s announcement, the top…