Russia has said it deployed extra personnel to its nuclear forces, upping the geopolitical stakes as its invasion of Ukraine entered its fifth day.
But Western nations aren’t taking the bait, with President Biden telling Americans on Monday they should not fear nuclear war, a posture that experts say may help avoid a dangerous escalation of rhetoric.
Moscow’s defense ministry Monday said those overseeing its nuclear arsenal “began to carry out combat duty with reinforced personnel,” meaning the Kremlin’s nuclear weapons would be more ready to launch.
The escalatory move comes in the face of universal condemnation and painful sanctions against Russia from Western powers, as the Kremlin struggles to take the capital city of Kyiv.
U.S. officials, however, have played down the nuclear threats as posturing, with the White House noting that it was “not going to indulge in” the rhetoric.
“At this time, we see no reason to change our own alert levels,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily press briefing, adding that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”