Russia and key ally start second round of nuclear drills

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The exercises with Belarus are aimed at maintaining the readiness of personnel and equipment, the Defense Ministry in Moscow has explained

Russia and Belarus have kicked off the second stage of joint non-strategic nuclear force exercises, Moscow announced on Tuesday. The drills are meant to ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Union State between the two nations, the Defense Ministry said.  

In a statement on Telegram channel, the Russian military explained that the latest round of drills will include the joint training of units in the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons, and will be aimed at maintaining the readiness of personnel and equipment.  

A non-strategic or tactical nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon designed to be used on the battlefield, mostly with friendly forces in proximity and potentially on contested friendly territory.  

Previously, in the first stage of the exercise, personnel from Russia’s Southern Military District practiced obtaining special training ammunition for the Iskander operational-tactical missile system, equipping these munitions to missiles, covertly advancing to designated positions, and preparing for missile launches, the ministry said.  

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has explained that the drills are being held in response to what he described as the West’s continued escalatory actions, stressing it is important that Russia maintains its combat readiness.  

“There is a fairly tense situation on the European continent, which is provoked every day by new hostile decisions and actions of European capitals and Washington towards Russia. Provocation occurs on a daily basis. Therefore, of course, such exercises and maintaining combat readiness are very important for us,” Peskov said.  

He noted, however, that the joint drills are “normal practice” and that Russia’s armed forces must maintain their combat readiness at “the proper level.”  

Regarding the international response to the drills, former Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, who currently serves as secretary of Russia’s Security Council, noted a “generally restrained reaction from the world community.”  

“It is becoming clear to an increasing number of countries in the world that it was the irresponsible behavior of the United States and its actions to undermine arms control regimes that led to the degradation of the situation in the international security sphere,” he said.  

Shoigu also stressed that the joint exercises are an “adequate response” to the buildup of NATO forces on Russia’s borders, as well as the West’s continued support for the “Kiev terrorist regime” and its missile strikes on Russian civilian targets.

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