Ukraine war latest: Russia admits its armed forces have suffered casualties

The Pentagon said it had “no reason to doubt” reports that Putin had placed his nuclear forces on high alert.

“This is not only an unnecessary step for him [Putin] to take but an escalatory one,” said a senior US defence official. “It is clearly potentially putting at play forces that if there’s a miscalculation could make things much more dangerous.”

The Pentagon declined to say if it had altered its nuclear posture in response to the move by Putin.

“We do not talk about specifics of our strategic deterrent posture,” the official said. “We remain confident in our ability to defend ourselves and our allies and our partners, and that includes in the strategic deterrent realm.”

Separately, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said of the move: “This is really a pattern that we’ve seen from President Putin through the course of this conflict, which is manufacturing threats that don’t exist in order to justify further aggression.

“At no point has Russia been under threat from Nato, has Russia been under threat from Ukraine, this is all a pattern from President Putin . . . we have the ability to defend ourselves, but we also need to call out what we’re seeing here,” she told ABC on Sunday.

A senior US defence official said that the Russian military had moved large numbers of forces into Ukraine over the past 24 hours. He said Russia has now deployed two-thirds of the combat forces it had amassed on the border before the invasion — an…

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