Sunday, February 27, 2022

Putin Raises Tensions by Putting Nuclear Forces on High Alert (VIDEO)

Starting up today's Ukraine coverage.

Check back throughout the day.

At the New York Times, "Live Updates: Ukraine Agrees to Talks with Russia, as Putin Places Nuclear Forces on Alert":

KYIV, Ukraine — President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine agreed on Sunday to have Ukrainian officials take part in talks with Russia “without preconditions,” even as President Vladimir V. Putin further escalated tensions by placing his nuclear forces on alert.

“We agreed that the Ukrainian delegation would meet with the Russian delegation without preconditions on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, near the Pripyat River,” Mr. Zelensky announced on his official Telegram channel, describing a phone call Sunday with President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus.

Mr. Lukashenko “has taken responsibility for ensuring that all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on Belarusian territory remain on the ground during the Ukrainian delegation’s travel, talks and return,” Mr. Zelensky continued. The Belarusian leader is a close ally of Mr. Putin’s.

It was not clear when the talks would begin, and late Sunday a Russian state news agency reported that they would only start Monday morning.

But just before Mr. Zelensky’s announcement, Mr. Putin issued a new threat to the West, which has increasingly rallied behind Ukraine as its citizens and its military fight back against the Russian invasion. In brief remarks aired on state television, he told his defense minister and his top military commander to place Russia’s nuclear forces on alert.

The Ukraine Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 352 civilians have been killed since the invasion began, including 14 children.

And even as the talks neared, satellite imagery showed a miles-long convoy of hundreds of Russian military vehicles bearing down on Kyiv.

Mr. Putin characterized his nuclear alert move as a response to the West’s “aggressive” actions...