Putin launches nuclear war drills
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched strategic drills on Saturday, and is following the exercises from the situation center in Moscow, along with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.
The drills involve both nuclear and non-nuclear weapons, and are being held amid the escalation in eastern Ukraine and continuing tensions with NATO. The Russian Defense Ministry said ahead of the maneuvers that they would include the “launching of ballistic and cruise missiles.” The air force is set participate along with the country’s Northern and Black Sea fleets.
An RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile has been launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northwestern Russia, to hit a target in the Kamchatka Peninsula in the country’s Far East, after traveling around 5,700km (3,540 miles).
The nuclear-powered Karelia submarine has fired an R-29RMU Sineva ballistic missile from the Barents Sea in the Arctic, also targeting the Kamchatka polygon.
Ships and submarines from Russia’s Northern and Black Sea fleets fired Kalibr cruise missiles.
They also launched a Zircon anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile, one of the country’s newest weapons, which is designed to destroy large aircraft carriers and other large enemy vessels. In 2021 alone, the Russian Northern Fleet conducted at least 12 successful tests of the missile, according to the Ministry of Defense.
Large Tu-95 strategic bombers, meanwhile, struck targets on Kamchatka and in western Russia.
The air force also fired Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missiles.
In Russia’s southern Astrakhan Region, near the Caspian Sea, mobile batteries fired 9K720 Iskander short-range ballistic missiles.
The drills are taking place amid heightened tensions with NATO, as Western countries accuse Moscow of amassing troops and military hardware with the intent to invade Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly denied having plans to attack its neighbor. Moscow insists it is carrying out maneuvers within Russia and Belarus as part of routine exercises.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the current exercise is “absolutely transparent,” while drills involving ballistic missiles are “a fairly regular training process.”