Putin places nuclear forces on high alert

Vladimir Putin
(Image credit: SERGEI GUNEYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his country's nuclear deterrent forces to high alert status on Sunday, CBS News reports. The U.S. called the move "totally unacceptable."

According to Vox, Russia has an arsenal of approximately 6,000 nuclear warheads.

Putin said he gave the order because "[t]op officials in leading NATO countries have allowed themselves to make aggressive comments about our country," according to CNN.

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On Feb. 19, just a few days before the invasion began, Putin made a similar show of nuclear strength when he ordered drills involving nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missiles, bombers, and warships.

No NATO government has called for direct military intervention against Russia, but Putin could still be feeling pressure as international condemnation of his invasion of Ukraine mounts.

BBC reported Sunday that Russia has faced bank runs as sanctions and limits on its access to the international financial intermediary system SWIFT threatened the nation's export-heavy economy.

Russian planes have been banned from flying over the European Union, Canada, and the United Kingdom, The New York Times reported Sunday.

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