December 3, 2023

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What do we know about Russia’s nuclear strike drills?

What do we know about Russia’s nuclear strike drills?

As part of preparations for a “massive nuclear strike” in response, Russia launched a ballistic missile this Wednesday, October 25. The exercise took place on the same day as the upper house of the Russian parliament revoked its approval of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The last experiments of this scale date back to the 1990s in the Soviet Union. Under the watchful eye of its President Vladimir Putin, Russia on Wednesday conducted military drills that included ballistic missile launches in preparation for a nuclear strike against its homeland.

“Under the leadership of the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces, Vladimir Putin, a training exercise was conducted (…). Practice firing of ballistic and cruise missiles took place,” the Kremlin confirmed.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu described the rationale for the maneuvers in his statement, saying they were aimed at simulating “the triggering of a massive nuclear attack by strategic offensive forces in response to an enemy nuclear attack.”

Two missiles launched by Russia

In detail, one Lars intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from the cosmodrome in Plesetsk, northwest of the country, while the second, called Sineva, was launched from a submarine located in the Barent Sea.

Long-range Tu-95MS aircraft, already deployed on the Ukrainian front, also launch short-range cruise missiles.

Images of these scenes were broadcast by the Russian Ministry of Defense and circulated on social networks, as evidenced by this video on X.

However, the Russian nuclear doctrine has always been clear: providing for the use of nuclear weapons “strictly defensive” in the event of an attack on Russia with weapons of mass destruction or aggression with conventional weapons. condition.

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The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was abandoned the same day

The round of exercises took place on the same day Russia’s lower house of parliament, also known as the Federation Council, revoked ratification of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Senators voted unanimously by 156 votes to approve the text, which Vladimir Putin is expected to announce in the coming days.

According to the Kremlin, abandoning the deal is aimed at “restoring the strategic balance” with the US, as the latter has never ratified it. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov vowed on Wednesday that his country would only talk about nuclear arms control when Washington stops being “hostile” to Moscow, Ukraine’s main military and financial backer.

Fears of escalating arms race

Abrogation of the treaty raises fears that the arms race could intensify. Russia has not carried out such tests since 1990, before the breakup of the Soviet Union, while the last test of this scale in the United States dates back to 1992.

In recent years, Russia has already abandoned several nuclear disarmament agreements, including the crucial New START deal with the United States. In the summer of 2023, it also deployed tactical nuclear weapons, less powerful than warships of strategic vectors, among its closest ally, Belarus.

Vladimir Putin has been delighted by new Russian weapons in this area in recent years, which, he says, are capable of penetrating existing anti-missile shields. He added that the tests of two of them, Bourevestink and Sarmat, are nearing completion.

As a reminder, Russia and the US together possess nearly 90% of all nuclear weapons on the planet.

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