Update (1025ET): Finally NATO Chief Stoltenberg warned that Putin's nuclear alert is both "dangerous" and "irresponsible."
A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed that Russia's "nuclear posture change is an escalatory step," and warns that it "risks miscalculation."
Additionally the Defense Department official refused to say if the US nuclear posture has changed.
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As we detailed earlier, President Vladimir Putin has ordered his army to put Russia's nuclear deterrence on "special" alert on Sunday following "aggressive statements" by NATO leaders.
"Western countries are not only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic area. I'm speaking about the illegitimate sanctions that everyone is well aware of. However, the top officials of the leading NATO countries also make aggressive statements against our country as well," Putin stated on Russian media.
Putin: "Western countries aren't only taking unfriendly economic actions against our country, but leaders of major Nato countries are making aggressive statements about our country. So I order to move Russia's deterrence forces to a special regime of duty." pic.twitter.com/AC1yHncqZc— max seddon (@maxseddon) February 27, 2022
"For this reason, I order the minister of defense and the chief of general staff to put deterrent forces on special combat duty," Putin continued.
*record scratch* *freeze frame* Yup, that's me. You're probably wondering how I ended up in this situation pic.twitter.com/XMQHPlv0s2— Peter Leonard (@Peter__Leonard) February 27, 2022
Earlier this month, Russia conducted exercises involving its nuclear forces including test launches of missiles.
Placing Russia's nuclear deterrence on high alert may include the use of nuclear and conventional weapons. Russia's military definition said the deterrence is designed "to deter aggression against Russia and its allies, as well as to defeat the aggressor, including in a war with the use of nuclear weapons."
Commenting on the latest development, natsec reported Paul Sonne writes that "Putin is now essentially threatening the use of nuclear weapons in response to the announcement that the Russian central bank will be targeted with economic restrictions."
Putin is now essentially threatening the use of nuclear weapons in response to the announcement that the Russian central bank will be targeted with economic restrictions.— Paul Sonne (@PaulSonne) February 27, 2022
In response to Putin's order, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that "President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable and we have to continue to stem his actions in the strongest possible way"
By way of reminder, here is what the five nuclear-weapon states said in January (yes, just a few weeks ago) on preventing nuclear war and avoiding arms races...
The People’s Republic of China, the French Republic, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America consider the avoidance of war between Nuclear-Weapon States and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost responsibilities.
We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons—for as long as they continue to exist—should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war. We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented.
We reaffirm the importance of addressing nuclear threats and emphasize the importance of preserving and complying with our bilateral and multilateral non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control agreements and commitments. We remain committed to our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, including our Article VI obligation “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
We each intend to maintain and further strengthen our national measures to prevent unauthorized or unintended use of nuclear weapons. We reiterate the validity of our previous statements on de-targeting, reaffirming that none of our nuclear weapons are targeted at each other or at any other State.
We underline our desire to work with all states to create a security environment more conducive to progress on disarmament with the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all. We intend to continue seeking bilateral and multilateral diplomatic approaches to avoid military confrontations, strengthen stability and predictability, increase mutual understanding and confidence, and prevent an arms race that would benefit none and endanger all. We are resolved to pursue constructive dialogue with mutual respect and acknowledgment of each other’s security interests and concerns.
So much for that!