While US president Joe Biden visits Kyiv to “blackmail” the West, Ukraine has warned that Vladimir Putin has placed his nuclear forces on high alert.

Only a few hours before Joseph Biden set foot on European territory in Kyiv during a surprise visit almost exactly one year after Russia invaded Ukraine, Ukrainian intelligence agencies issued the warning.

According to reports, Russia has started conducting “large scale” nuclear drills and has turned on its unsettlingly titled “Monolith” central command system.

Submarines, missiles, and warplanes—the three components of the nuclear triad—have all been placed on the “highest levels of battle readiness.”

All three elements of the nuclear triad, submarines, missiles and warplanes, have been put on the “highest levels of combat readiness”.

According to reports, key commanders and strategic bombers have also been relocated to the Tambov air base, which is located around 300 miles south of Moscow and 300 miles northeast of Ukraine.

Intelligence experts interpret the Kremlin’s action as an example of the “escalate to de-escalate” intimidation strategy, in which the threat of an attack induces a retreat by the target of the attack.

The Ukrainian intelligence agency stated in a public post on Telegram that “Russia may step up nuclear blackmail in order to obstruct the US president’s travel to Europe.”

Russia is seen to be willing to employ nuclear weapons as a kind of intimidation in a conventional confrontation, but only if Putin personally approves their use.