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Russians initiate nuclear weapons drill close to Ukraine.

"Reaction to instigations"

During the military parade on Victory Day, Moscow presents its RS-24 Yars ballistic missiles.
During the military parade on Victory Day, Moscow presents its RS-24 Yars ballistic missiles.

Russians initiate nuclear weapons drill close to Ukraine.

Russia is raising alarms once more with its atomic weapons display. This distraction was previously announced, but now Moscow is moving launch systems and a nuclear warhead to the border with Ukraine. This ploy is Putin's reaction to the remarks made by France and the United Kingdom.

The Russian Defense Ministry declared the commencement of a nuclear weapons drill near Ukraine. This undertaking is a "countermeasure to the provocative comments and threats from specific western figures," according to the ministry. "Testing the preparedness" of "non-strategic nuclear arms" is being practiced to ensure the "remaining intact and in control of the Russian state's territory."

The event is unfolding in the Southern Military District, the Moscow defense ministry shared. This area that borders Ukraine includes sections of neighboring countries annexed by Russia. Footage from the ministry showed trucks carrying missiles to a field. Launch systems were also being readied on this field as soldiers tended to a fighter aircraft to transport a nuclear warhead.

The ministry further revealed that this marks the "initial phase" of the exercises, involving the loading of launchers, travel to designated installations, and loading of aircraft with Kinschal hypersonic missiles. The Russian Southern Military District commands the conflict with Ukraine. Its headquarters are situated in Rostov-on-Don, fifty kilometers from the Ukraine border.

In early May, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered military exercises after receiving a string of Western statements that upset Moscow. Russian officials cited assertions made by French President Emmanuel Macron that NATO countries shouldn't disregard the idea of deploying soldiers to Ukraine as well as remarks by British Foreign Secretary David Cameron asserting that Kiev has the right to fire missiles at Russian territory.

The Russian defense ministry announced an exercise by its tactical nuclear forces on Monday. This is the first time Russia has publically disclosed such exercises, despite strategic nuclear forces typically scheduling maneuvers. Tactical nuclear arms, in comparison to the substantial warheads attached to intercontinental ballistic missiles, are less potent and designated for use on the battlefield. These weapons encompass warheads for short-range missiles and artillery ammunition.

Nuclear weapons exercise as a warning to the West

This declaration appears to be a reminder to Ukraine's Western allies to not get further embroiled in this ongoing conflict. French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized last week that he would not rule out sending troops to Ukraine. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron stated that the Ukrainian military could target Russia with longer-range British missiles. The Kremlin characterized these comments as hazardous.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov confirmed that these statements prompted the exercises. "A new form of escalation," he said. Given such unexpectedly daring comments, special actions were deemed necessary. The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors of Great Britain and France. If Ukraine attacked Russian soil with British weapons, British military facilities and equipment on Ukrainian soil and elsewhere could be attacked, the ministry warned. The British ambassador should "reflect on the inevitable calamitous repercussions of such bellicose maneuvers by London."

Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, who has brandished several drastic threats, cautioned that Macron and Cameron were edging the nuclear-armed world towards disaster with these statements. Russia had already responded to Western support for Ukraine with an atomic display last year. In March 2023, Putin revealed plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on the land of Ukraine's neighbor, Belarus, in response to the UK announcing they would provide Ukraine with armor-piercing shells containing depleted uranium.

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