Russia rehearses response to nuclear attack as tensions rise over "dirty bomb" allegation
Agencies | Kyiv
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Russia rehearsed its response to a nuclear attack yesterday in an exercise that involved nuclear submarines, strategic bombers and ballistic missiles at a time when tensions are high over a "dirty bomb" allegation it has made against Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin remotely observed the annual exercise, called "Grom" or "Thunder", which uses test launches to put Moscow's nuclear forces through their paces in a show of force designed to deter and intimidate foes.
Russian officials said test launches of nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missiles had passed off successfully. Putin was cited by the RIA news agency as saying the potential for conflict in the world and region remained high.
The Pentagon said a day earlier that Russia had notified it of its intention to carry out the exercises at a time when NATO is rehearsing its own use of US nuclear bombs based in Europe in its annual "Steadfast Noon" war games.
The nuclear muscle flexing is sensitive because Russia is on the back foot in Ukraine and has accused Ukraine of planning to detonate a "dirty bomb" laced with radioactive material. Kyiv and the West say there is no evidence for the allegation and that the warning looks designed to escalate tension around the war in Ukraine or to serve as the justification for some kind of Russian battlefield escalation.
Western officials have expressed fear that Moscow may be tempted to use a low-yield "tactical" nuclear weapon in Ukraine to try to force Kyiv to capitulate at a time when Ukrainian forces are advancing inside the Russian-occupied Kherson province, threatening a major defeat for Moscow. US President Joe Biden warned Moscow on Tuesday that such a move would be an "incredibly serious mistake."
Putin, who will chair a Security Council meeting later on Wednesday, has warned that Russia has the right to defend its own territory using any weapons in its arsenal, which includes the world's largest nuclear stockpile, but has not specifically spoken of tactical nuclear weapons.
RUSSIA BRIEFS CHINA AND INDIA
Russian officials have said that Moscow's protective nuclear umbrella has been extended to cover four Ukrainian regions Putin says he has annexed, a move not recognised by Kyiv or the West, while stressing the desire to avoid a nuclear conflict.
A day after Russia aired its "dirty bomb" allegations at the UN Security Council, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu briefed his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe by video, conveying Moscow's concern around what it called "potential provocations" from Kyiv involving a "dirty bomb", Shoigu's ministry said.
A close Putin ally, Shoigu held a similar video conference with his Indian counterpart, it said. Rajnath Singh, India's Defence Minister, told Shoigu that nuclear weapons should not be used by any side in the Ukraine war, according to an Indian government statement.
"The prospect of the usage of nuclear or radiological weapons goes against the basic tenets of humanity," Singh was cited as telling Shoigu. Singh called for an early resolution to the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy, a prospect which, for now, seems remote after eight months of war amid a successful Ukrainian counter offensive that has forced Russian troops to retreat.
Washington said late on Tuesday that Moscow's notification of its plans to carry out nuclear exercises lowered the risk of miscalculation at a time of "reckless" Russian nuclear rhetoric.