Russia begins nuclear exercises in apparent warning to the West about Ukraine

The Russian military on Tuesday began tactical nuclear weapons exercises that were announced by Russian authorities earlier this month in an apparent warning to Western senior officials who had spoken of the possibility of deeper involvement in the war in Ukraine.

It was the first time that Russia publicly announced Exercises with tactical nuclear weapons.although its strategic nuclear forces carry out exercises periodically.

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

The maneuvers are taking place in the Southern Military District, which is made up of the southern Russian regions, including the border with Ukraine; Crimea, illegally annexed to Ukraine in 2014; and four Ukrainian regions that Russia illegally annexed in 2022 and partially occupies.

The exercises were announced on May 6, and the Defense Ministry said in a statement that they would be held in response to “provocative statements and threats by certain Western officials regarding the Russian Federation.”

Tactical nuclear weapons include aerial bombs, warheads for short-range missiles and artillery munitions and are intended for use on the battlefield. They are less powerful than strategic weapons: massive warheads that arm intercontinental ballistic missiles and are intended to destroy entire cities.

The announcement came after French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated that he is not ruling out sending troops to Ukraine, and UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Kiev forces will be able to use long-range British weapons. range to attack targets inside Russia. The Kremlin called those comments dangerous and increased tension between Russia and NATO.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on May 6 that Macron’s statement and other comments by British and American officials had sparked the nuclear exercises, calling the comments “a new round of escalation.”