Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday supervised a drill by Moscow’s strategic nuclear forces, which included practice launches of ballistic and cruise missiles. During the exercise, intercontinental ballistic missiles were launched to test the level of preparedness of the military and the skills of operational personnel in organising troops, the Kremlin said.
Tupolev Tu-95MS long-range aircraft were also employed in the missions, carrying out launches of air-based cruise missiles. “The tasks set out during the drill of the Strategic Deterrence Forces were performed in full. All missiles reached their targets, confirming the rated characteristics,” the statement said.
Russia’s nuclear forces drill comes amid claims by Moscow that Ukraine may use ‘dirty bomb’ in its territory. This has triggered alarm with many fearing that Russia may use this as a pretext to launch a nuclear attack on Ukraine.
Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu earlier this week dialled his counterparts in the UK and claimed that he was concerned that Ukraine may go for another provocation by using a ‘dirty bomb’. He also made this claim to India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden was asked whether this was a false flag operation by Russia to escalate tension in Ukraine. Biden said he was not sure as yet but if Moscow uses a nuclear weapon against Ukraine, it would be making an incredibly serious mistake. “Russia would be making an incredibly serious mistake for it to use a tactical nuclear weapon,” he said.
In a telephonic conversation with Rajnath Singh, Russia’s Defence Minister Shoigu raised concerns about possible provocations by Ukraine through the use of ‘dirty bomb’. Singh said the nuclear option should not be resorted to by any side as the prospect of the usage of nuclear or radiological weapons goes against the basic tenets of humanity.