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Russia starts nuclear weapons drills near ukraine ‘as a reaction to Western threats’

On Tuesday, Russia announced the commencement of tactical nuclear weapons drills near Ukraine, citing it as a reaction to Western “threats.”

Throughout its two-year campaign in Ukraine, Moscow has frequently highlighted its nuclear arsenal and its willingness to use it if faced with an existential threat.

Western leaders have criticized President Vladimir Putin for what they term as reckless nuclear saber-rattling.

According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, the drills are being conducted in its Southern Military District, which borders and includes regions of Ukraine that Moscow claims to have annexed. The exact locations were not disclosed.

The drills aim to test “the readiness of personnel and equipment of non-strategic nuclear weapons combat units to respond and to unconditionally ensure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Russian state,” the Defense Ministry stated.

The ministry added that the drills were a “response to provocative statements and threats by certain Western officials.”

Putin ordered these drills earlier this month following several Western statements regarding the Ukraine conflict that Moscow found objectionable.

Russian officials specifically referenced remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron, who discussed NATO countries not ruling out deploying troops to Ukraine, and British Foreign Minister David Cameron, who stated that Kyiv had the right to target Russian territory with Western missiles.

Russia’s Southern Military District, which oversees the offensive against Ukraine, is headquartered in Rostov-on-Don, located 60 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. This district also includes regions Russia claims to have annexed—Crimea, Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia.

The Defense Ministry released footage showing trucks transporting missiles to a field where launch systems were being prepared and troops at an airfield readying a bomber to carry a nuclear warhead.

This was described as the “first stage” of the drills, involving the practice of loading launch vehicles, transporting them to designated launch sites, and equipping planes with hypersonic Kinzhal missiles.

The ministry did not indicate whether any actual test firings had occurred.

Tactical nuclear weapons, or non-strategic nuclear weapons, are designed for battlefield use and can be delivered via missiles.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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