Putin signals escalation as he puts Russia’s nuclear force on high alert
Deterrence order given as Zelenskiy says Ukraine delegation will meet Russian officials at Belarus border

It is not immediately clear what the “special mode of combat duty” entails. Pavel Podvig, a Geneva-based analyst and head of the Russian Nuclear Forces project, said it was “hard to tell” what the order meant but that it may be a “preliminary command.” It “makes a retaliatory strike possible,” he told the Guardian. “But does not mean preparation for a first strike.”

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