Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he was elevating the readiness status of his nuclear forces was “very unusual,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers on Tuesday, but she said that it was better understood as messaging rather than an immediate threat to the United States.
“We obviously take it very seriously when he's signaling in this way,” Haines said. “But we do think [that] he is effectively signaling, that he's attempting to deter” NATO from getting involved in the conflict in Ukraine, she said during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. “That’s been his main purpose in doing so.”
Haines also said that the Russian announcement that Russian strategic forces would be placed on “special alert status” did not refer to a “technical term as we understand it within their system.”
The intelligence community has closely tracked any Russian strategic movements, Haines said, but “we're not seeing something at this stage that indicates that he is doing something different than what we've seen in the past.”