Putin orders tactical nuclear weapon drills


Russia said on Monday it would practice the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons as part of a military exercise after what Moscow said were threats from France, Britain, and the United States.

Russia says the United States and its European allies are pushing the world to the brink of confrontation between nuclear powers by supporting Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars of weapons, some of which are being used against Russian territory.

Russia's defence ministry said it would hold military drills including practice for the preparation and deployment for use of non-strategic nuclear weapons. It said the exercises were ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

Missile forces in the Southern Military District, aviation and the navy will take part, the defence ministry said.

The exercise is aimed at ensuring Russia's territorial integrity and sovereignty "in response to provocative statements and threats by certain Western officials against the Russian Federation", it said.

Russia has about 1,558 non-strategic nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists, though there is uncertainty about exact figures for such weapons due to a lack of transparency.

Major nuclear powers routinely check their nuclear weapons but very rarely publicly link such exercises to specific perceived threats in the way that Russia has.


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