Last Sunday, Russia’s military went on nuclear alert. President Vladimir Putin announced that he moved his nuclear deterrent forces into alert. This further heightened worries among world leaders that Russia is getting desperate.
Ukraine Holds Off Russian Troops In Kharkiv
During the fourth day of fighting, Ukrainian forces managed to bear back Russian troops in Kharkiv.
However, a large contingent of tanks and assault vehicles are now heading straight into the capital, Kyiv. Many are fearing the worst as Russia continues to send wave upon wave of troops.
From the looks of it, a long, drawn-out land war is in the cards for the combatants. Massive evacuations of hundreds of thousands of civilians are laying the groundwork for a bloody and intense battle ahead.
This is despite indications that both countries are arranging talks.
Many Civilians Caught in the Crossfire
Ukrainian officials accused Russian soldiers of indiscriminately firing on ambulances and civilian areas.
According to reports, the invasion has so far killed at least 353 civilians and wounded 1,684 more. This includes 116 children.
Far more ominous is Putin’s announcement that he is putting his military on nuclear alert. Thankfully, none of the other nuclear powers took the bait.
Even as Putin placed his nuclear forces on “special combat readiness,” President Joe Biden didn’t bite. He didn’t order American forces on Defcon 3, which meant putting bombers, silos, and submarines on standby. Instead, the US chose not to respond.
‘Putin Escalating War in Unacceptable Manner’
Of course, not everybody was cool with Putin’s nuclear alert announcement. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield showed concern.
She said that Putin continues to “escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable”. As a result, the US needs to “continue to condemn his actions in the strongest possible way.”
Russia itself is feeling the pinch from a devastating blow of economic sanctions. The US and European allies managed to block Russia from accessing its currency reserves in the West.
They also suspended Russia’s inclusion in the SWIFT network, which handicaps its ability to transact internationally.
As the war continues on Ukrainian soil, more than 400,000 Ukrainians fled into neighboring countries for asylum. According to Matt Saltmarsh, UN refugee agency spokesperson, many endured freezing nights and grueling walks to reach the border.
Meanwhile, World Health Organization officials warned that Ukrainian hospitals are running out of medical oxygen.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of waging a campaign that bordered on genocide. He said that officials are now collecting evidence to refer to an international tribunal.
Zelensky hopes that Russia will face war crimes for its actions in his country. “They are fighting against everything alive,” Zelensky said. “They kill our children, destroy our homes, try to blow up everything that was built over decades.”
Belarus Has Entered The Game
Another potential problem is the apparent entry of Russian ally Belarus into the fray. US officials warned that the country is sending soldiers into Ukraine to support Russian troops.
Meanwhile, Ukraine can only appeal to Western powers to keep up the sanctions designed to choke Russia from the world community.
While the sanctions are helping plunge the ruble into record lows, they will take time before its effects become apparent.
Watch the Bloomberg Markets and Finance video reporting that Russian President Vladimir Putin puts Russia’s nuclear forces on higher alert:
Do you believe that Russia will actually use nuclear weapons in its fight against Ukraine? Or, do you think this is all a massive bluff towards the negotiating table?
Let us know what you think. Share your comments below.