Ukraine warned that Vladimir Putin has put his nuclear forces on high alert as US president Joe Biden visits Kyiv to “blackmail” the West.
Ukrainian intelligence services issued the warning just a few hours before Joe Biden touched European soil when he landed in Kyiv in a surprise visit almost exactly a year since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Russia has allegedly begun “large scale” nuclear exercises, including activating its central command system, eerily named “Monolith”.
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All three elements of the nuclear triad, submarines, missiles and warplanes, have been put on the "highest levels of combat readiness".
Strategic bombers and top commanders have also reportedly been moved to Tambov air base, around 300 miles south of Moscow and 300 miles northeast of Ukraine.
The Kremlin’s move is understood by intelligence circles to be an intimidation tactic known as “escalate to de-escalate”, where the threat of attack will cause an opposing force to back down.
“Russia may increase nuclear blackmail in order to disrupt the visit of the US president to Europe”, the Ukrainian intelligence directorate said in a public post on Telegram.
Moscow is believed to be open to using nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict as an intimidation tactic, with the use of such a weapon needing to be signed off personally by Putin.
Putin looking to invade another European country causes 'deep concern', warns US official
Russia’s escalation comes as Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine to visit the war torn country, where he met with Volodymyr Zelensky and doubled down on his support for the country, offering a new $500million military package.
On top of this, the US is expected to announce a host of new sanctions against Russian elites and their companies at a time when Russia’s economy has tanked, along with public support for its invasion of Ukraine.
Putin is reportedly facing huge pressure from his party as the anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine looms over him with little to show for it despite massive losses.
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