Putin orders tactical nuclear weapon drills to deter the West

Putin orders tactical nuclear weapon drills to deter the West

MOSCOW, May 6 (Reuters) – Russia said on Monday it would practice the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons as part of a military exercise after what the Moscow said were threats from France, Britain and the United States.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Russia has repeatedly warned of rising nuclear risks – warnings which the United States says it has to take seriously though U.S. officials say they have seen no change in Russia’s nuclear posture.
Russia’s defence ministry said it would hold military drills including practice for the preparation and deployment for use of non-strategic nuclear weapons. It said the exercises were ordered by President Vladimir Putin.
“During the exercise, a set of measures will be carried out to practise the issues of preparation and use of non-strategic nuclear weapons,” the ministry said.
Missile forces in the Southern Military District, aviation and the navy will take part, the defence ministry said.
The exercise is aimed at ensuring Russia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty “in response to provocative statements and threats by certain Western officials against the Russian Federation”, it said.
Russia and the US hold over 10,600 of the world’s 12,100 nuclear warheads, with China having the third-largest. Russia has 1,558 non-strategic warheads, but exact figures remain uncertain due to transparency.


US President Joe Biden reportedly hinted at no real possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons, but CNN reported that US officials have prepared for a potential Russian nuclear strike against Ukraine in 2022.

“We do not see anything new here,” said Andriy Yusov, a spokesperson for Ukrainian military intelligence. “Nuclear blackmail is a constant practice of Putin’s regime.”
The Kremlin has criticized Western statements about sending NATO soldiers to Ukraine, stating it is an unprecedented escalation of tension. The Kremlin has warned the West that a direct conflict between Russia and the US-led NATO military alliance could lead to World War Three, but hardly anyone wants such a scenario.


NATO is holding its largest exercise since the end of the Cold War, the “Steadfast Defender,” without revealing if it will include rehearsal of nuclear elements. Russia’s nuclear doctrine has been criticized for preparing for a surprise attack, but Putin has dismissed such calls.

Broadly, the doctrine says such a weapon would be used in response to an attack using nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, or the use of conventional weapons against Russia “when the very existence of the state is put under threat”.

Putin views the war in Ukraine as part of a centuries-old conflict with the West, humiliating Russia after the 1989 Berlin Wall fall. Ukraine and Western supporters claim it’s an imperial-style land grab.

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