President Vladimir Putin ordered that Russian nuclear deterrent forces be placed on alert Sunday to counter "aggressive" statements by NATO leaders.
Putin ordered Russia to have its nuclear weapons ready for launch at a higher level, raising the possibility that tensions could escalate into a nuclear conflict. The Russian leader also mentioned the severe financial sanctions that the West has imposed on Russia, including Putin, in his statement.
The president of Ukraine said that a delegation would meet Russian officials amid the worrying developments.
Putin used the nuclear alert directive to refer not only to the statements made by NATO members, but also the severe financial sanctions that the West has imposed on Russia, including on the Russian leader.
Putin spoke to his defense minister and chief of the military's general staff during a meeting. He asked them to place the nuclear deterrent forces under a "special regimen of combat duty."
Putin made the remarks in televised remarks, "Western countries don't just take unfriendly actions against our nation in the economic realm but also top officials of leading NATO members made aggressive statements about our country."
In the days preceding Russia's invasion, Putin threatened to retaliate severely against any nation that interfered in the conflict in Ukraine. He specifically raised the possibility of Russia becoming a nuclear power.
Thomas-Greenfield stated that President Putin continues to escalate the war in a way that is completely unacceptable. He should be condemned in every possible way.
Putin's order did not have a clear practical meaning. Russia and the United States have their land- and sub-based strategic nuclear forces prepared for combat, while other aircraft and nuclear-capable bombers are not.
Hans Kristensen, a nuclear analyst with the Federation of American Scientists, said that if Putin is increasing the nuclear combat readiness of its bombers or ordering more ballistic missile subs to sea, the United States may feel obliged to do so. He said that this would be a worrying escalation, and could lead to a crisis.
This alarming development came as fighting broke out in Ukraine’s second-largest urban area and Russian troops pushed into strategic ports in the country’s south. These advances appeared to be a new phase in Russia’s invasion. They were following an attack on fuel facilities and airfields elsewhere in the country.
After huge explosions in the morning sky lit up Kyiv's capital, Kyiv was quiet. Authorities also reported that there were blasts at one airport. As a 39-hour curfew was in effect, only a few cars made it onto the main boulevard. In fear of a Russian invasion, terrified residents hid in underground garages and subway stations.
Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukrainian President, stated that "the past night was tough" and added, "More shelling, more bombing residential areas and civil infrastructure." "There's not one facility in the country that occupiers won't consider acceptable targets.
According to the Kremlin, Russia sent a delegation from Belarus to Ukraine to hold peace talks after its eastward gains in Kharkiv (and other ports). Zelensky suggested alternative locations and said that his country wasn't willing to meet in Belarus as it was a staging ground for the invasion.
Russia's troops remained at the outskirts Kharkiv (a city of 1.4million) until Sunday. Other forces moved past to push the offensive into Ukraine.
Video posted to Ukrainian media and social networking showed Russian vehicles moving through Kharkiv, and small groups of Russian troops roaming around the city. One video showed Ukrainian troops firing on the Russians, and destroying light utility vehicles left behind by them.
These images show the determination of Russian troops when trying to enter Ukraine's larger cities. Ukrainians have volunteered in large numbers to defend Kyiv and other cities. They took guns from authorities and prepared firebombs to combat Russian forces.
Large explosions erupted early Sunday morning near Kyiv. Fearful residents hid in underground garages, subway stations, and homes in preparation for a Russian invasion.
Putin has not yet revealed his final plans. However, Western officials believe that he intends to overthrow Ukraine’s government and install his own regime, redrawing Europe's map and returning Moscow's Cold War-era influence.
The goal of the pressure on strategic ports in south Ukraine was to seize control of the country’s coastline, which stretches from the border of Romania in the west to Russia in the east. Major General Igor Konashenkov of the Russian Defense Ministry stated that Russian forces had blocked the ports of Berdyansk and Kherson, both on the Black Sea.
He claimed that the Russian forces also seized control of an Airbase close to Kherson and the Azov Sea town of Henichesk. Ukrainian authorities have also reported fighting in the vicinity of Odessa and Mykolaiv, as well as other areas.
The country's economy would be severely affected if Ukraine was denied access to its sea ports. Moscow could also use it to create a land corridor to Crimea. This is the Crimea that Moscow annexed in 2014. Until now, Russia was connected to Ukraine by a bridge measuring 19 kilometers (12 miles), which was the longest bridge in Europe, which opened in 2018.
According to the mayor, flames rose from an oil depot located near Vasylkiv's airbase. This is a city 23 miles south-east of Kyiv, where there have been heavy fighting. According to the presidency's office, Russian forces destroyed a Kharkiv gas pipeline, prompting the government warning people to cover their windows using damp cloth or gauze to protect themselves from the smoke.
In a message directed at Russian troops, Lt.-Gen. Yevhen Moisiuk, Ukrainian military deputy commander, made a defiant note.
"Unload your guns, raise your arms so that our civilians and servicemen can understand what you are saying. Moisiuk stated in a Facebook video, "This is your ticket home."
The U.S. promised an additional $350million in military assistance to Ukraine. This included anti-tank weapons and body armor, small arms, and small arms. Germany stated that it would send anti-tank weapons and missiles to the besieged nation and would also close its airspace for Russian planes.
The United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom have agreed to block certain Russian banks from the global financial messaging system. This system, which moves money around more 11,000 financial institutions worldwide, is part of a new round sanctions that aims to impose severe penalties on Moscow for its invasion. They also agreed to impose "restrictive actions" on Russia's central banks.
Sunday's announcement by the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that 100 billion euros (or $112.7 billion) is being committed to a special fund for their armed forces raised its defense spending to above 2% of its gross domestic product. Scholz explained to a special session in the Bundestag that the investment was necessary "to protect freedom and democracy."