Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday observed military exercises that involved simulating a retaliatory “massive nuclear strike,” which coincided with NATO nuclear exercises being held in Europe.
The Kremlin said that under the leadership of Putin, “a training session was held with ground, sea, and air strategic deterrence forces, during which practical launches of ballistic and cruise missiles took place.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told the Russian leader that the missile launches were meant to simulate “the tasks of carrying out a massive nuclear strike by the strategic nuclear forces in retaliation for the enemy’s nuclear strike.”
As part of the drills, a Yars land-based intercontinental ballistic missile was fired from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, a spaceport in northwest Russia. A Sineva ballistic missile was launched from a submarine in the Barents Sea, and two Tu-95MS long-range bombers fired two cruise missiles.
NATO’s nuclear drills, which Belgium is hosting, do not include live-fire exercises but involve the simulation of nuclear strikes with about 60 aircraft, including American B-52 bombers and other nuclear-capable planes. The drills are taking place over Belgium, Britain, and the North Sea, and 14 NATO members are participating.
Both exercises have been described as “routine” but come amid the highest tensions between the US and Russia since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Despite the tensions, Russia still notified the US when it started its nuclear exercises, and the US said Moscow “is complying with its arms control obligations and its transparency commitments to make those notifications.”