Russia begins tactical nuclear weapons drills close to Ukraine | EUROtoday

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Russia on Tuesday introduced the beginning of tactical nuclear weapons drills near Ukraine, in what it stated was a response to Western “threats”.

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Throughout its two-year offensive on Ukraine, Moscow has repeatedly talked-up its arsenal of nuclear weapons and its readiness to deploy them if it senses an existential menace.

The West has accused President Vladimir Putin of irresponsible nuclear sabre-rattling.

Russia’s defence ministry stated Tuesday the drills have been happening in its Southern Military District, which borders and contains elements of Ukraine that Moscow claims to have annexed. It didn’t specify precisely the place.

The drills are designed to check “the readiness of personnel and equipment of non-strategic nuclear weapons combat units to respond and to unconditionally ensure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Russian state,” the defence ministry stated in an announcement.

It added they have been a “response to provocative statements and threats by certain Western officials.”

Putin ordered the drills earlier this month after a collection of Western statements on the Ukraine battle drew scorn in Moscow.

Russian officers pointed to feedback by French President Emmanuel Macron about NATO international locations needing to not rule out deploying troops to Ukraine and British Foreign Minister David Cameron saying Kyiv had the correct to fireplace Western missiles at Russian territory.

Russia’s Southern Military District is the command centre for its offensive on Ukraine. It is headquartered in Rostov-on-Don, 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the border with Ukraine and in addition contains elements of the nation Russia says it has annexed—the Crimea, Donetsk, Kherson, Lugansk and Zaporizhzhia areas.

The defence ministry printed footage exhibiting vans carrying missiles to a area the place launch techniques have been ready and troops at an airfield readying a bomber to hold a nuclear warhead.

It stated this was the “first stage” of the drills, which concerned working towards the loading of launch autos, driving to designated launch websites and loading planes with hypersonic Kinzhal missiles.

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It didn’t point out whether or not any take a look at firings had taken place.

Tactical nuclear weapons, also called non-strategic nuclear weapons, are designed to be used on the battlefield and will be delivered by way of missiles.