Russia begins nuclear drills in apparent warning to West over Ukraine

22 May 2024, 08:34

Russian troops load an Iskander missile as part of drills to train the military for using tactical nuclear weapons at an undisclosed location in Russia
Russia Nuclear Drills. Picture: PA

It is the first time Russia has publicly announced drills involving tactical nuclear weapons.

Russia’s military has begun drills involving tactical nuclear weapons that were announced by Russian authorities earlier this month in an apparent warning to senior Western officials who had spoken about the possibility of deeper involvement in the war in Ukraine.

It is the first time Russia has publicly announced drills involving tactical nuclear weapons, although its strategic nuclear forces regularly hold exercises.

According to a statement by the Defence Ministry, released on Tuesday, the first stage of the new drills envisioned “practical training in the preparation and use of non-strategic nuclear weapons”, including nuclear-capable Kinzhal and Iskander missiles.

Russia Nuclear Drills
Iskander missile are seen as part of military drills to train the military for using tactical nuclear weapons during drills at an undisclosed location in Russia (Russian Defence Ministry/AP)

The maneouvers are taking place in the southern military district, which consists of Russian regions in the south, including on the border with Ukraine; Crimea, illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014; and four Ukrainian regions that Russia illegally annexed in 2022 and partially occupies.

The drills were announced on May 6, with the Defence Ministry saying in a statement that they would come in response to “provocative statements and threats of certain Western officials regarding the Russian Federation”.

Tactical nuclear weapons include air bombs, warheads for short-range missiles and artillery munitions and are meant for use on a battlefield.

They are less powerful than the strategic weapons — massive warheads that arm intercontinental ballistic missiles and are intended to obliterate entire cities.

The announcement came after French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated that he doesn’t exclude sending troops to Ukraine, and the UK’s Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron said Kyiv’s forces will be able to use British long-range weapons to strike targets inside Russia.

The Kremlin branded those comments as dangerous, heightening tension between Russia and Nato.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on May 6 that Macron’s statement and other remarks by British and US officials had prompted the nuclear drills, calling the remarks “a new round of escalation”.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Russia’s Kazan nuclear-powered submarine arrives at the port of Havana, Cuba, on Wednesday

US submarine pulls into Guantanamo Bay day after Russian warships arrive in Cuba

This image provided by Tamatha Bibbo, principal of the Pollard Middle School in Needham, Massachusetts, shows 23 sets of twins who graduated from Pollard Middle School

Double take: 23 sets of twins graduate from single Massachusetts middle school

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich waves and smiles as he stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the First Appeals Court of General Jurisdiction in Moscow, Russia, on April 23 2024

US reporter Evan Gershkovich, held in Russia on espionage charges, to face trial

The 'Happy Days' actor shared a grinning selfie with Dublin Fire Brigade

Happy Days for The Fonz: Henry Winkler thanks firefighters after blaze at Dublin hotel

Rishi Sunak with Italian PM Giorgia Meloni

Rishi Sunak receives warm welcome at G7 summit as he reunites with Italian PM

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky walks past various international flags on arrival at the G7 in Borgo Egnazia, Italy

How will move to lend Ukraine billions backed by Russia’s frozen assets work?

G7 leaders at the summit in southern Italy

G7 summit opens with deal to use frozen Russian assets for Ukraine

A tourist fans a companion in front of the the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens

Heatwave forces Greek authorities to shut Acropolis in afternoon for second day

Bulgarian former prime minister Boyko Borissov, leader of the centre-right GERB party

Bulgarian ex-premier Borissov offers coalition but does not want job again

A Polish soldier patrols the border with Belarus

Poland reintroduces restrictions along Belarus border due to migration pressures

Eric Calibet smiling in a black t-shirt with his arms spread out.

Retired US cop missing on Greek island days after Michael Mosley's body found - as temperatures hit 40 degrees

Leonardo Donno, of the 5-Star Movement (centre top), is protected by other politicians during the brawl in the lower house of Italy's Parliament

Fight erupts in Italian Parliament amid tension over expanding regional autonomy

One driver had to be rescued from the floods by helicopter

Floods in Spanish tourist hotspot cause chaos, as trapped driver hauled from car by rescue workers in helicopter

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses the media after receiving the results of the European Parliament elections

Top EU court fines Hungary 200m euros for flouting asylum law

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin (left) arrives for bilateral talks on the sidelines of a Nato defence ministers' meeting in Brussels

Nato defence ministers thrash out Ukraine security aid and training support plan

Middle terrace at ruins of Ancient Kameiros, Kalavarda, Rhodes (Rodos), The Dodecanese, South Aegean Region, Greece

Rhodes hit by 4.8-magnitude earthquake as holidaymakers describe 'the whole airport shaking'