The Russian invasion of Ukraine entered Day Four with news that seemed both promising and troubling.
Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to attempt to escalate tensions beyond the battlefield and to NATO governments with a nuclear threat while agreeing to peace talks with the Ukrainian government.
Neither move appeared likely to change the immediate face of the battlefield, but the two neatly encapsulated the power Putin has to make the conflict far worse or to end it with a word.
⚡️⚡️⚡️BREAKING: Ukraine confirms peace talks with Russia today.— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) February 27, 2022
On his personal Telegram channel, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine said he would send a delegation to meet with Russian officials “without preconditions” at a Belarus border crossing.
“We agreed that the Ukrainian delegation would meet with the Russian delegation without preconditions on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, near the Pripyat River,” Zelenskyy wrote.
BIG NEWS, PEACE TALKS CONFIRMED!— Update Ukraine Situation (@AgencyNews27) February 27, 2022
Zelensky texted: “We agreed that the Ukrainian delegation would meet with the Russian delegation without preconditions on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, near the Pripyat River,” he said.#russia#war#ukraine#putin#stopputin pic.twitter.com/YG7DJwNqux
However, Putin also ordered Russian nuclear forces into a higher level of alert, a move widely seen as posturing but still one that highlights the weapons as available to Russia. Putin said he made the move due to “aggressive statements” from Western nations, which White House press secretary Jen Psaki labeled as an example of Putin “manufacturing threats that don’t exist.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN’s State of the Union that Putin’s statements are “dangerous rhetoric, this is behavior which is irresponsible. […] This adds to the seriousness of the situation.”