Russia to test 'weapon of the apocalypse' while Putin gets desperate as Ukrainians break through Russian front

4 October 2022, 12:27 | Updated: 4 October 2022, 15:53

The Kremlin has spent much of its failing invasion trying to instil fear of its nuclear arsenal
The Kremlin has spent much of its failing invasion trying to instil fear of its nuclear arsenal. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Russia is set to test a nuclear-capable drone called the "weapon of the apocalypse" amid suggestions that Putin is preparing a separate atomic weapon demonstration near Ukraine.

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The K-329 Belgorod submarine, thought to be carrying the Poseidon torpedo drone, is believed to be en route to the Arctic where it could test the device around the Kara Sea area.

Meanwhile, separately, a train operated by Russian defence ministry's nuclear munitions division was seen in central Russia, apparently headed to Ukraine, in what one defence analyst suspected was a "signal" to Western powers.

Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin have ramped up their nuclear sabre-rattling as their hopeless invasion of Ukraine collapses, with Kyiv's forces liberating swathes of territory in the east and south despite Russia's desperate attempt to annex them.

Ukrainian troops have broken through Russian defences around Dudchany on the Dnipro river, and at the town of Zolota Balka, which marked the previous frontline by the river.

They are also moving to Luhansk in the east.

He has described his willingness to use any means to defend what he calls Russian territory, which has raised the prospect of whether Moscow would go as far as to use a nuclear weapon.

The Kremlin has ramped up nuclear sabre-rattling
The Kremlin has ramped up nuclear sabre-rattling. Picture: Alamy

Zelensky speaks as areas of Ukraine are liberated from Russian control

La Repubblica newspaper in Italy said the Poseidon, a nuclear-capable drone with an extreme nickname, is due to be tested in the Arctic and Nato has warned its members and allies about that.

The Poseidon, however, has uses other than nuclear warfare. It can be used as a conventional weapon.

Read more: Russian nuclear train 'a signal to the West' after fears over how Putin will defend annexed Ukrainian regions

The Times also reports that the alliance has warned Putin could be preparing a nuclear test at Ukraine's borders, with one defence source suggesting that could happen in the Black Sea.

A more extreme scenario involving Russia using a tactical nuclear weapon against Ukraine is less likely, and the source said that would carry significant risk.

"They could misfire and accidentally hit a Russian city close to the Ukrainian border such as Belgorod," the source said.

Russia has enjoyed publishing images of weapons like its Sarmat missile
Russia has enjoyed publishing images of weapons like its Sarmat missile. Picture: Alamy

A train said to be run by the Russian MoD's 12th directorate, which handles nuclear munitions, was filmed heading through the country's centre.

"This "another train with military equipment" is actually carrying kit belonging to the 12th Main Directorate of the Russian MoD. The directorate is responsible for nuclear munitions, their storage, maintenance, transport, and issuance to units," said Konrad Muzyka, a defence analyst.

"Does that mean that this video shows preparations for a nuclear release? Not really. There are other more likely explanations.

"1) It could be a form of signalling to the West that Moscow is escalating 2) Russian RVSN forces usually train extensively during autumn.

"3) Russia may conduct GROM strategic deterrence exercise in October, so this train could be showing a prep for this drill."

Both the nuclear submarine device and the train are thought to be messages to the West.

Russia is getting increasingly desperate, having seen its forces crumble in sections of the east of Ukraine while it is also beginning to lose position to advancing liberators in the south.

However, despite frothing-at-the-mouth pundits that are wheeled out on evening TV across Russia, and the leader of Chechnya, the Putin acolyte Ramzan Kadyrov, calling for some form of nuclear strike, the Kremlin sought to play down any suggestion of an attack like that.

"The heads of regions have the right to express their point of view. Even at difficult moments, emotions should still be excluded from any assessments," Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.