Putin sets Russia's nuclear forces on high alert
Kremlin photo of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin talking on the phone.

In response to what he's referring to as "aggressive statements" by NATO, Vladimir Putin has put Russia's nuclear forces on high alert as of Sunday morning.

This article first appeared In Salon.

"Western countries aren't only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country," Putin said in televised comments.

This statement from Putin, included in a Sunday morning report by The Washington Post, escalates the already fraught events of the push into Ukraine on behalf of Russian forces that began roughly a week ago. Since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine was put into direct motion by Putin, the looming threat of nuclear possibility has been on everyone's mind. Now, in the face of Putin's call to ready nuclear forces, that threat is at its closest.

"President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable," Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a quote used by The Washington Post. "And we have to continue to condemn his actions in the most strong, strongest possible way."

Overnight, Russian attacks in the Ukraine capital of Kyiv advanced to the east into Kharkiv where citizens braced for a full attack.

"The past night was tough – more shelling, more bombing of residential areas and civilian infrastructure," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. "There is not a single facility in the country that the occupiers wouldn't consider as admissible targets."

To assist with their defense against Russian attack, Ukraine government has approved the release of prisoners with military experience so that they might help in the fight for their country which grows more dire as the days progress.

Ukrainian military deputy commander Lt.-Gen. Yevhen Moisiuk issued a statement to Russian troops via a video posted to Facebook saying "Unload your weapons, raise your hands so that our servicemen and civilians can understand that you have heard us. This is your ticket home."