Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert, escalating tensions

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A civil protection man stands guard at a checkpoint in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday. Russian troops stormed towards Ukraine’s capital Saturday, and avenue preventing broke out as metropolis officers urged residents to take shelter. (Emilio Morenatti, Related Press)

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KYIV, Ukraine — President Vladimir Putin dramatically escalated East-West tensions by ordering Russian nuclear forces placed on excessive alert Sunday, whereas Ukraine’s embattled chief agreed to talks with Moscow as Putin’s forces drove deeper into the nation.

Putin cited “aggressive statements” by NATO in issuing a directive to extend the readiness of his nation’s nuclear weapons — a step that raised fears that the invasion of Ukraine might boil over into nuclear struggle, whether or not by design or mistake.

The Russian chief is “doubtlessly placing in play forces that, if there is a miscalculation, might make issues a lot, rather more harmful,” stated a senior U.S. protection official, talking on situation of anonymity.

Amid the mounting tensions, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s workplace introduced that the 2 sides would meet at an unspecified location on the Belarusian border, the place a Russian delegation was ready Sunday.

However the Kremlin’s final goals in Ukraine — and what steps could be sufficient to fulfill Moscow — remained unclear.

The fast-moving developments got here as scattered preventing was reported in Kyiv, battles broke out in Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis, Kharkiv, and strategic ports within the nation’s south got here below assault from Russian forces.

With Russian troops closing in round Kyiv, a metropolis of just about 3 million, the mayor of the capital expressed doubt civilians may very well be evacuated.

Throughout the nation, Ukrainian defenders had been placing up stiff resistance that appeared to sluggish Russia’s advance.

Within the southern port metropolis of Mariupol, the place Ukrainians tried to fend off a Russian advance, a medical group at a metropolis hospital desperately tried to revive a 6-year-old woman in unicorn pajamas who was mortally wounded in Russian shelling. The trouble failed, and he or she lay lifeless on a gurney, her jacket spattered with blood.

Throughout the video-recorded rescue try, a health care provider in blue medical scrubs, pumping oxygen into the woman, appeared into the digicam.

“Present this to Putin,” he stated angrily. “The eyes of this little one, and crying docs.”

Members of civil defense prepare Molotov cocktails in a yard in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday. A Ukrainian official says street fighting has broken out in Ukraine's second-largest city of Kharkiv.
Members of civil protection put together Molotov cocktails in a yard in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday. A Ukrainian official says avenue preventing has damaged out in Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis of Kharkiv. (Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky, Related Press)

In the meantime, the highest official within the European Union outlined plans by the 27-nation bloc to shut its airspace to Russian airways and fund the acquisition of weapons for Ukraine.

“For the primary time ever, the European Union will finance the acquisition and supply of weapons and different tools to a rustic that’s below assault,” stated European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen. The EU will even ban some pro-Kremlin media shops, she stated.

Additionally, the 193-member U.N. Normal Meeting scheduled an emergency session Monday on Russia’s invasion.

Putin, in giving the nuclear alert directive, cited not solely statements by NATO members — who’ve rushed to bolster the army alliance’s members in Jap Europe — however the hard-hitting monetary sanctions imposed by the West towards Russia, together with Putin himself. He advised his army chiefs to place nuclear forces in a “particular regime of fight obligation.”

“Western international locations aren’t solely taking unfriendly actions towards our nation within the financial sphere, however high officers from main NATO members made aggressive statements concerning our nation,” Putin stated in televised feedback.

U.S. protection officers wouldn’t disclose their present nuclear alert degree besides to say that the army is ready always to defend its homeland and allies.

White Home press secretary Jen Psaki advised ABC that Putin is resorting to the sample he used within the weeks earlier than the invasion, “which is to fabricate threats that do not exist with a view to justify additional aggression.”

The sensible that means of Putin’s order was not instantly clear. Russia and the US usually have land- and submarine-based nuclear forces on alert and ready for fight always, however nuclear-capable bombers and different plane are usually not.

If Putin is arming or in any other case elevating the nuclear fight readiness of his bombers, or if he’s ordering extra ballistic missile submarines to sea, then the US would possibly really feel compelled to reply in type, stated Hans Kristensen, a nuclear analyst on the Federation of American Scientists. That will mark a worrisome escalation, he stated.

Earlier Sunday, Kyiv was eerily quiet after big explosions lit up the morning sky and authorities reported blasts at one of many airports. A foremost boulevard was virtually abandoned as a strict 39-hour curfew saved folks off the streets. Authorities warned that anybody venturing out and not using a cross could be thought of a Russian saboteur.

Terrified residents hunkered down in houses, underground garages and subway stations in anticipation of a full-scale Russian assault. Provides of meals and medication had been operating low, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko stated.

Authorities have been handing out weapons to anybody prepared to defend the town. Ukraine can also be releasing prisoners with army expertise who need to combat, and coaching folks to make firebombs.

“Proper now, crucial query is to defend our nation,” Klitschko stated.

In downtown Kharkiv, 86-year-old Olena Dudnik stated she and her husband had been almost thrown from their mattress by the strain blast of a close-by explosion.

“Daily there are avenue fights, even downtown,” with Ukrainian fighters making an attempt to cease Russian tanks, armored automobiles and missile launchers, Dudnik stated by cellphone. She stated the traces at drugstores had been hours lengthy.

“We’re struggling immensely,” she stated. “We do not have a lot meals within the pantry, and I fear the shops aren’t going to have something both, in the event that they reopen.” She added: “I simply need the capturing to cease, folks to cease being killed.”

Passengers wait for a train to Poland, inside Lviv railway station, Sunday, in Lviv, west Ukraine. The U.N. has estimated the conflict could produce as many as 4 million refugees.
Passengers watch for a practice to Poland, inside Lviv railway station, Sunday, in Lviv, west Ukraine. The U.N. has estimated the battle might produce as many as 4 million refugees. (Photograph: Bernat Armangue, Related Press)

Pentagon officers stated that Russian troops are being slowed by Ukrainian resistance, gas shortages and different logistical issues, and that Ukraine’s air protection programs, whereas weakened, are nonetheless working.

However a senior U.S. protection official stated that can most likely change: “We’re in day 4. The Russians will be taught and adapt.”

Putin hasn’t disclosed his final plans, however Western officers consider he’s decided to overthrow Ukraine’s authorities and change it with a regime of his personal, reviving Moscow’s Chilly Conflict-era affect.

The variety of casualties from Europe’s largest land battle since World Conflict II remained unclear amid the fog of struggle.

Ukraine’s well being minister reported Saturday that 198 folks, together with three youngsters, had been killed and greater than 1,000 others wounded. It was not clear whether or not these figures included each army and civilian casualties.

Russian Protection Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov gave no figures on Russia’s lifeless and wounded Sunday however stated his nation’s losses had been “many instances” decrease than Ukraine’s.

The U.N. refugee company stated Sunday that about 368,000 Ukrainians have arrived in neighboring international locations because the invasion began Thursday.

Over the weekend, the U.S. pledged a further $350 million in army help to Ukraine, together with anti-tank weapons and physique armor. Germany stated it might ship missiles and anti-tank weapons.

The U.S., European Union and Britain additionally agreed to dam chosen Russian banks from the SWIFT system, which strikes cash round 1000’s of banks and different monetary establishments worldwide. In addition they moved to slap restrictions on Russia’s central financial institution.

Russia’s economic system has taken a pounding because the invasion, with the ruble plunging, the central financial institution calling for calm to keep away from financial institution runs, and lengthy traces forming at ATMs.

Putin despatched forces into Ukraine after massing virtually 200,000 troops alongside the nation’s borders. He claims the West has did not take significantly Russia’s safety considerations about NATO, the Western army alliance that Ukraine aspires to hitch. However he has additionally expressed scorn about Ukraine’s proper to exist as an impartial state.

Russia claims its assault on Ukraine is aimed solely at army targets, however bridges, faculties and residential neighborhoods have been hit.

Contributing: Ellen Knickmeyer, Robert Burns, Hope Yen, Francesca Ebel, Josef Federman, Andrew Drake, Mstyslav Chernov, Nic Dumitrache

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Putin puts Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on alert | Russia-Ukraine crisis News

Putin has ordered the defence minister and the chief of the army to place nuclear deterrent forces in a ‘particular regime of fight responsibility’.

President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian nuclear deterrent forces placed on excessive alert in a dramatic escalation of tensions with the West over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Putin stated on Sunday that main NATO powers had made “aggressive statements” whereas imposing hard-hitting monetary sanctions in opposition to Russia and himself.

At a gathering along with his high officers, the president ordered the defence minister and the chief of the army’s normal workers to place the nuclear deterrent forces in a “particular regime of fight responsibility”.

The order raises the menace that the tensions might result in using nuclear weapons.

“It’s actually an escalation,” Al Jazeera’s Moscow correspondent Dorsa Jabbari stated. “The final nuclear workout routines came about on February 19, when Putin staged very massive drills throughout Russia to check the nation’s nuclear programme and [its] readiness.”

The Kremlin stated it had efficiently test-launched hypersonic and cruise missiles at sea and land-based targets. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, an ally of Putin, additionally oversaw the army workout routines.

“That is seemingly one other transfer by President Vladimir Putin to indicate that he’s nonetheless very a lot a person of power,” Jabbari stated.

America responded to Putin’s announcement, accusing the Russian chief of fabricating threats to justify “additional aggression”.

“This can be a sample that we’ve seen from President Putin via the course of this battle, which is manufacturing threats that don’t exist with the intention to justify additional aggression,” White Home press secretary Jen Psaki stated on ABC.

The American ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, condemned Putin’s transfer strongly.

“It implies that President Putin is constant to escalate this warfare in a fashion that’s completely unacceptable,” Thomas-Greenfield stated in an interview on CBS.

Amid the worrying growth, the workplace of Ukraine’s president stated a delegation would meet Russian officers close to the Belarus border.

Moscow has confronted worldwide condemnation because it launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. Russian troops have confronted decided resistance whereas making an attempt to enter Ukraine’s large cities, as Ukrainians volunteered en masse to assist defend the nation, taking weapons distributed by authorities and getting ready firebombs to battle Russian forces.

Putin has claimed the West didn’t take critically Russia’s safety considerations about NATO, the Western army alliance that Ukraine aspires to hitch.

Secretary-Normal Jens Stoltenberg on Friday introduced that the alliance was deploying 1000’s of combat-ready troops to Ukraine’s neighbours, in addition to persevering with to ship weapons to Ukraine together with air defences after Russia’s assault.

Stoltenberg added that NATO allies and the European Union had already launched important sanctions and that different companions all over the world had adopted swimsuit.

“We should stand able to do extra. Even when it means we now have to pay a value,” Stoltenberg stated.

Putin despatched troops into Ukraine after denying for weeks that he meant to take action, all of the whereas build up a power of virtually 200,000 troopers alongside the nations’ borders.

He has additionally expressed scorn about Ukraine’s proper to exist as an impartial state.

Russia on Thursday took management of the previous Chernobyl nuclear plant, the place radioactivity continues to be leaking from historical past’s worst nuclear catastrophe 36 years in the past.

Radiation ranges elevated on the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine authorities stated on Friday, warning that the seizure of the nuclear plant by invading Russian troops might have “horrible penalties”.

Police killing puts spotlight on anti-Roma racism in Greece | Roma

Athens, Greece – On the morning of February 7, the Sampanis household gathered on a avenue nook in Perama, Athens, to construct a small memorial on the aspect of the street the place 18-year-old Nikos Sampanis had been killed by police 4 months earlier.

Nikos’ father and uncle stacked two cement blocks, coated them with white plaster, and stuck a small church on high. His elder sister Katerina sat beside them, crying, holding the hand of one other brother, Georgos.

Nikos’ son, three-year-old Alex, toddled between his mom and completely different uncles and aunts. The household put flowers beside the memorial and a photograph of Nikos inside, adopted by a can of his favorite vitality drink.

Katerina and Georgos confirmed Al Jazeera movies of Nikos at his office, fixing motorbikes and joking, his shoulders shaking with every snort.

“He made many many jokes,” mentioned Katerina. “Our household was not a depressed household. We have been very pleased, due to him.”

Shortly after the memorial was constructed, the household noticed a number of cops in white motorbike helmets watching additional down the street. Katerina stood and commenced shouting at them. Different family members joined, yelling: “Murderers!”

“All the police are racist, all of them, there isn’t one who isn’t,” mentioned Katerina. “These police had a mania to kill one in every of us. They usually discovered my brother. They wished to kill a Gypsy.”

The incident

Nikos Sampanis was killed early on October 23, 2021, after a squad of Greek cops on motorbikes chased a automotive in Perama and fired a minimum of 36 bullets into the car.

A 15-year-old passenger of the automotive was additionally severely injured, and a 3rd teenager survived with out main accidents.

In an preliminary assertion, the police acknowledged that they pursued a automotive that appeared to have been stolen, that the youths had reversed the automotive into the officers and injured seven of them, and the police had fired their weapons to cease the car.

Nevertheless, when police radio communications have been launched, there was no point out of the automotive being stolen, the officers defied orders from headquarters to stop their pursuit, and so they reported not one of the officers had been injured.

And, the automotive chase started with the report that there was a automotive operating pink lights and “three folks inside are Gypsies”.

The killing reignited a firestorm in Greek media, and reopened conversations about anti-Roma racism in Greece.

Days of protests

Aspropyrgos – a municipality close to Athens the place many Roma reside – was rocked by demonstrations for days. The Sampanis household has demanded a full investigation into the homicide and known as for an investigation into hate crime fees.

The household tells of a lifetime of police harassment, detailing frequent site visitors stops, ID checks, and journeys to police stations.

“They cease us on a regular basis, they ask for our papers. We give them and so they nonetheless hassle us,” mentioned Giannis Pasios, Nikos’ uncle.

“Sure after all the police are racist,” mentioned Giannis Sampanis, Nikos’ father. “All the police are racist to Gypsies. They are saying we steal usually. I don’t owe cash. I don’t steal. I work to get a wage for my youngsters.”

Thanasis Kampagiannis, the household’s lawyer, believes there’s adequate proof for the killing to be examined as having a racist motive.

“The truth that there was racial profiling, the truth that there was defiance of the order, after which there was a disproportionate use of weapons signifies there ought to a minimum of be an examination of what the actual motive of the crime was,” he mentioned.

The seven cops have been charged with the homicide of Nikos Sampanis, and tried homicide of {the teenager} who was injured. However they aren’t at the moment in custody and have been placed on desk obligation till the decision of the case is introduced.

“They’re working now! They’re free to stroll round wherever they need. They will go be with their households,” mentioned Katerina. “And us? Who our brother has handed away? Who will we maintain? We who cry every single day, and the youngsters who received’t cease crying?”

The police didn’t reply to requests for touch upon the case.

‘Social plague’

Alexis Kougias, the lawyer for the cops, mentioned the 2 surviving youngsters who have been within the automotive with Nikos are being charged with the tried homicide of the policemen with their automotive.

He additionally mentioned in a tv interview concerning the incident that Roma “sadly lately are a social plague”.

Vasilis Tsarnas, a researcher on the Greek Helsinki Monitor’s Racist Crimes Watch, mentioned anti-Roma racism in Greece is widespread and mainstream.

“It’s a prejudice shared by the bulk, virtually no matter political id,” he mentioned. “That is normalised as most non-Roma Greeks don’t even see them as Greeks or residents with equal rights. Impunity for police violence, a typical drawback within the nation, turns into virtually absolute when the victims are Roma.”

Since 2005, the European Courtroom of Justice has issued 4 choices concerning the ill-treatment of Roma by the Greek police, discovering Greece repeatedly in violation of the prohibitions on torture, discrimination, which violated Roma folks’s proper to life, and that in a number of situations investigations into crimes weren’t full or efficient.

The Sampanis household and their lawyer are involved that the investigation into Nikos’ killing is equally improper.

“It’s not simply the truth that they’ve perpetrated this crime, however they’re making an attempt to cowl it up,” mentioned Kampagiannis.

Destroying proof

Three days after the killing, the police returned the bullet-ridden automotive to its proprietor, who consequently had it impounded, thus destroying a key piece of proof within the case.

Kampagiannis additionally defined that lots of the bullets from the scene weren’t retrieved for proof and that the police say the digital camera within the metropolis bus on the scene on the time was not recording, and there have been no different cameras.

When Kampagiannis produced a photograph of a digital camera mounted on a close-by home to the investigative choose, the police mentioned it additionally had not recorded something that day.

On February 14, the Sampanis household filed a request for dismissal of the investigator, stating that not sufficient proof had been collected and the investigation had been closed unexpectedly.

Within the Sampanis household home in Aspropyrgos, images of Nikos grasp on the partitions. His title is written on the entrance home windows of the home. Nikos left behind two youngsters and his spouse, Stasia, who’s at the moment seven months pregnant.

“I would like justice. I would like my husband however the place will I discover him?” she mentioned. “How can I really feel? The youngsters ask for his or her father on a regular basis.”

Nikos’ mom Maria Pasios mentioned she feels her son’s absence continuously, particularly when his youngsters ask when their father will come house from work. “All day I consider him, all day,” she mentioned. “He was going to have a very good life, however he didn’t have time.”