Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday personally oversaw exercises by the country’s strategic nuclear forces, which included launches of cruise and ballistic missiles, in a show of force at a time of heightened tension with the West over the conflict in Ukraine.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed Putin that the exercises were intended to simulate a “massive nuclear strike” in retaliation for a nuclear attack on Russia.
Previously, Putin warned that he was willing to use “all available means” to repel attacks on Russian territory in a clear allusion to the country’s nuclear arsenal.
In the war exercises, intercontinental ballistic missiles were launched, one of the Yars type from the Plesetsk base in the north, and another of the Sineva type from a Russian nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea.
As part of the exercise, Tu-95 strategic bombers launched cruise missiles at practice targets.
The Kremlin said in a statement that all assigned tasks were accomplished and the test missiles hit their targets.
Such maneuvers with the land, sea and air components of the Russian nuclear triad are held annually for the training of the country’s nuclear forces and demonstration of their readiness.
The government of US President Joe Biden clarified that Moscow informed him in advance about the exercises. The Pentagon and the State Department said Russia complied with the provisions of the latest bilateral arms control agreement by notifying Washington of the tests.
Moscow has warned of an alleged Ukrainian plan to detonate a radioactive device known as a “dirty bomb”, saying it would be a false flag attack to blame Russia.
Putin himself repeated the dirty bomb accusation on Wednesday. “We are aware of the plans to use a dirty bomb to provoke,” the president assured.
Minister Shoigu discussed it with his Chinese and Indian colleagues. Ukraine and its Western allies have strongly rejected the accusation.
kyiv, in turn, has said it suspects Moscow of planning a false flag operation.
In Ukraine’s neighbor Poland, authorities said they are closely monitoring Russia’s movements in case it is preparing to use a nuclear or chemical weapon.
Defense Minister Marcin Ociepa charged that the Kremlin “could resort to nuclear or chemical weapons” given the setbacks it has had in Ukraine.