The White House said Monday that the US sees "no reasons” to change its nuclear alert levels after Russian President Vladimir Putin placed Russia’s nuclear forces on a "special" alert.
According to Interfax, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Monday that its nuclear missile forces in its Northern and Pacific fleets have been placed on "enhanced combat duty" in response to Putin’s order.
"We are assessing President Putin’s directive and at this time, we see no reasons to change our own alert levels," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
Later in the day, President Biden was asked if Americans should worry about nuclear war, to which he simply replied, "no." Psaki claimed that the US and NATO had no "appetite or desire" for a conflict with Russia even as the Western powers are pledging to funnel more weapons into Ukraine and have imposed a series of harsh sanctions on Russia.
According to BBC, the Kremlin later explained its change in nuclear forces posture was due to comments made by UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss:
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "unacceptable" remarks were made about possible "clashes" between Nato and Moscow over Russia's attack on Ukraine.
It is unclear precisely which comments by Ms Truss Russia objects to.
On Sunday, she said if Russia was not stopped, other states may be threatened and it could end in conflict with Nato.
A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office source told the BBC: "I don't think anything Liz has said warrants that sort of rhetoric or escalation."
Peskov said Monday: "Statements were made by various representatives at various levels on possible altercations or even collisions and clashes between Nato and Russia."
Moscow has claimed that Vladimir Putin decided to put Russia's nuclear deterrence forces on high alert following statements from Foreign Secretary Liz Truss https://t.co/TS91P5WP5Q— Sky News (@SkyNews) February 28, 2022
"We believe that such statements are absolutely unacceptable. I would not call the authors of these statements by name, although it was the British foreign minister."
Putin has made clear that a key demand for a ceasefire in Ukraine is for Kyiv to declare its neutrality, but the increased US and NATO support makes that less likely to happen.