Watch: Russia's Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert
Russia has said Vladimir Putin placed the country on nuclear alert after “unacceptable” comments by Liz Truss, it has been reported.
Putin announced on Sunday he was putting Moscow’s nuclear forces on a “special regime of combat duty” in response to “aggressive statements” coming from Western powers.
According to comments attributed to the Russia Interfax News Agency, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said: "There were unacceptable statements about possible conflict situations and even confrontations and clashes between Nato and Russia.
"I will not name the authors of these statements, although it was the British foreign secretary."
It has not been made clear which comments the Kremlin is referring to.
Shortly after the statement was released, Russian nuclear forces were placed on 'high alert' under new orders, Interfax reported.
More troops have increased preparations for "combat duty" at Russia's nuclear missile forces, Northern and Pacific fleets, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed.
Ukraine is now in its fifth day of fighting after Putin launched a full-scale invasion, with Russian troops appearing to have been met by a far more determined opposition than planned.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Whatever political disagreements any of us have with Liz Truss – and I have many deep differences with her – we should not fall for this transparent Russian attempt to divert.
“The only person responsible for Putin’s despicable nuclear threat is Putin.”
Downing Street also said the comments from Peskov were an attempt to distract from Russia’s difficulties in the Ukraine campaign.
“It remains the case that the rhetoric we are seeing from Putin’s regime is designed to distract from the situation on the ground, that is very much our focus,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
British politicians have downplayed Putin's nuclear threats, saying it is a distraction from Russian forces coming up against fierce opposition from the Ukrainian armed forces.
Boris Johnson said his words were “a distraction from the reality of what’s going on”.
“This is an innocent people who are facing a totally unprovoked act of aggression against them, and what’s actually happening is that they are fighting back perhaps with more effect, with more resistance, than the Kremlin had bargained for,” the prime minister said.
“You can see some of the logistical difficulties that the Russian forces are experiencing.
“The Russian defence ministry have themselves conceded that they’re having casualties.
"This is a disastrous misbegotten venture by President Putin.”
Putin has faced tougher opposition than he may have originally bargained for in attempting to invade Ukraine, with their defence forces putting up a fierce fight.
Ukrainian officials have claimed over 5,000 Russian soldiers have so far been killed since the invasion began in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Across the Western world, governments have brought in strict sanctions which are starting to bite at Russia, bringing economic havoc.
The ruble sank nearly 26% against the US dollar early on Monday morning, trading at a record low 105.27 per dollar (£78.95).
It comes after Western nations moved to block Russian banks from the Swift payment system.