Putin stages ‘massive nuclear strike’ drill after Russia opts out of test treaty
'The objectives of the exercise were achieved in full.'
The Kremlin press office said yesterday the ‘exercise included practical launches of ballistic and cruise missiles’.
Missiles were launched from a land-based silo, a nuclear submarine and from long-range bomber aircraft.
Among them, Russia – which has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal which can strike more or less anywhere in the world – test-launched a Yars intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov gave updates to Putin, who listened in from the Kremlin’s situational centre, state-controlled news agency Tass reported.
State TV showed Shoigu say the was a rehearsal for a ‘massive nuclear strike’ in response to an enemy’s nuking the nation.
He addressed the president as ‘Comrade Supreme Commander-in-Chief’.
Gerasimov added: ‘As part of the training, Yars mobile ground-based missile systems of the strategic missile forces, Tula strategic submarine of the Northern Fleet and two strategic long-range missile carriers Tu-95MS, were deployed.’
The Kremlin said the ICBM was launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, a spaceport in Mirny, Arkhangelsk, about 500 miles north of Moscow
The nearly 21m-long missile’s target was the Kura missile test range in northern Kamchatka Krai in Russia some 4,000 miles to the east – ICBM missiles have a range of up to 7,500 miles.
ICBMs take just seven minutes to be prepped for launch and have missile dodging in mind, experts say, with the chance of it penetrating defences at up to 65%.
The Kremlin added: ‘The purpose of the training exercise was to check the level of preparedness of military command bodies, as well as the skill of the leadership and operational personnel in managing the troops (forces) under their command.
‘The objectives of the exercise were achieved in full.’
Russian lawmakers in the Federation Council voted to end ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CNTBT) in a move approved by the lower Duma last week.
The bill will now soon land on Putin’s desk for final approval, with the president saying doing so would ‘mirror’ the US, which signed but did not ratify the treaty.
Ratifying means the treaty could be codified into law.
The voluntary pact prohibits ‘any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion’, with some supporters saying that just having an arsenal should be enough to put off adversaries without setting off nuclear explosions.
The world’s five declared nuclear powers – the US, Britain, China, France and Russia – first signed the CNTBT in 1996.
All five nations have since spent years pouring billions into modernising their military arsenals, with Putin’s repeated casting of Russia versus the West raising fears of a new arms race.
As much as Russia is moving to de-ratify the deal, Moscow has said it will stick to an informal testing moratorium signed in 1992.
It will only resume such testing if the US does so first.
From Putin threatening to use ‘all available means’ to hefty missiles being paraded around in front of cameras, the Kremlin has made its stockpile clear.
Russia has launched 219 atmospheric tests and 496 underground test explosions since 1945, the Arms Control Association, which monitors nuclear testing, said in August.
However, experts doubt Putin would ever resort to nuking places such as Ukraine, where wind could blow radiation straight into Russian territory.
Moscow once saw the CNTBT as a ‘reliable barrier in the way of nuclear proliferation’, officials told the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, which monitors the treaty.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov even called on countries who were not part of the testing ban to sign up.
‘A broad international consensus was already reached on the issue long ago,’ he said, ‘and the countries which did not join CTBT cannot ignore this fact any longer.’
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].
For more stories like this, check our news page.