Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, on Sunday condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s move to order Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces to be on alert for a “special regime of combat duty.”
During a televised meeting with top officials on Sunday, Putin cited so-called “aggressive statements” by leading NATO powers and sweeping financial sanctions from the U.S. and other western leaders when announcing that he directed military leaders to put Russian nuclear deterrent forces on alert.
“President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable, and we have to continue to condemn his actions in the strongest possible way,” Thomas-Greenfield said during an appearance on CBS on Sunday. “Our voices have been unified with the Europeans and with the world that he needs to cease his aggressive actions toward Ukraine. And we will continue here at the United Nations and around the world to use every possible lever we have at our disposal to expose his actions.”
Thomas-Greenfield added that she is “not surprised” that Putin announced he was preparing Russia’s nuclear forces because the Russian president “has tried every means possible” to instill fear.
“It just means that we have to ramp up our efforts here at the United Nations and elsewhere to hold him accountable,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
Thomas-Greenfield went on to say that “nothing is off the table” with Putin when asked whether he could deploy chemical or biological weapons.
“He’s willing to use whatever tools he can to intimidate Ukrainians and the world,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
Additionally, Thomas-Greenfield criticized the Russian government for showing “its disrespect for the UN charter and for all of the principles that we believe in.”
“They are isolated in that approach,” Thomas-Greenfield said, referring to Russian government. “They’re isolated here in the United Nations, and we are holding them accountable here in New York.”
In response to Russia invading Ukraine, the U.S. and European nations sanctioned Russian banks, oligarchs and Putin himself in recent days.
On Saturday, the U.S., the European Union and the United Kingdom cut off certain Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system and imposed restrictions on Russia’s central bank. The move came a day after the U.S. and European allies sanctioned both Putin Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Thus far, security and humanitarian assistance from the U.S. to support Ukraine’s defense has totaled more than $1 billion, following the State Department’s authorization of an additional $350 million in lethal military assistance to Ukraine on Friday.
Watch Thomas-Greenfield’s remarks below: