President Vladimir Putin’s order to put Russian nuclear forces on high alert after invading Ukraine is part of Moscow’s patter of manufacturing threats to justify its aggressive actions, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Sunday.
“We've seen him do this time and time again. At no point has Russia been under threat from NATO, has Russia been under threat from Ukraine,” Psaki told ABC News.
“This is all a pattern from President Putin and we're going to stand up to it. We have the ability to defend ourselves, but we also need to call out what we're seeing here from President Putin,” she added.
Putin has issued orders to introduce what he described as a “special service regime” in the Russian army, state news agency TASS reported earlier in the day.
“Top officials in NATO’s leading countries have been making aggressive statements against our country. For this reason, I give orders to the defense minister and chief of the General Staff to introduce a special combat service regime in the Russian army’s deference forces,” Putin said.
“I am referring to the illegitimate sanctions, which are very well-known to everybody,” added.
Psaki said that Washington remains open to providing additional assistance to Kyiv and has not taken sanctions targeting Russia’s energy sector off the table but would only do so in a way while limiting the global impact.
Russia’s troops launched a comprehensive attack on Ukraine on Thursday that brought explosions and set off air raid sirens in Kyiv and other cities, officially beginning the military conflict the West has tried for months to dissuade Moscow from starting.