Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised statement on Sunday that he was ordering Russia's nuclear deterrent forces on alert, as he continues his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking alongside his defense minister and military chief of staff, Putin said recent sanctions and "aggressive statements" from NATO countries had led him to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty."
This is the second time Putin has alluded to Russia's nuclear arsenal while effectively warning the West to back off.
In a statement at the onset of the invasion, Putin said anyone who tried to "hinder us" would face "such consequences that you have never encountered in your history."
Fear of a standoff between nuclear powers is a large part of the reason the U.S. and its NATO allies have been so adamant that they will not send troops to Ukraine.