澳彩开奖结果

Russia and Belarus launch second stage of tactical nuclear weapons drills

Russia and its ally Belarus have launched a second stage of drills intended to train their troops in tactical nuclear weapons 鈥 part of the Kremlin鈥檚 efforts to discourage the West from ramping up support for Ukraine.

In announcing the nuclear manoeuvres last month, the Russian Defence Ministry said they were in response to 鈥減rovocative statements and threats of certain western officials regarding the Russian Federation鈥.

The Kremlin has expressed outrage after French President Emmanuel Macron said he does not exclude deploying troops to Ukraine, and the US and some other Nato allies allowed Kyiv to use the weapons supplied by them for striking targets on the Russian territory.

A pair of MiG-31 fighter jets taxi out for a training mission with two Tu-22M3 bombers seen in the background during joint Russian-Belarusian drills
A pair of MiG-31 fighter jets taxi out for a training mission with two Tu-22M3 bombers seen in the background during joint Russian-Belarusian drills (Russian Defence Ministry/AP)

Sergei Shoigu, the secretary of Russia鈥檚 Security Council, said in remarks published on Tuesday that the manoeuvres were a response to 鈥渨estern support of the Kyiv regime, active involvement of Nato鈥檚 troops in combat operations in Ukraine and an effective permission for Kyiv to launch missile strikes on Russian civilian facilities鈥.

He added that the drills were also part of Moscow鈥檚 reaction to Nato allies beefing up their military potential near Russia鈥檚 borders.

During the second stage of the drills that began on Tuesday, Russian and Belarusian troops will undergo joint training in non-strategic nuclear weapons used in combat, the Defence Ministry said.

It noted that the exercise is aimed at maintaining readiness of personnel and equipment to ensure 鈥渟overeignty and territorial integrity鈥 of the alliance of Russia and Belarus.

Navy personnel taking part in drills on board a Russian frigate
Navy personnel take part in drills on board a Russian frigate (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service photo via AP)

The Russian military had trained separately during the initial stage of the manoeuvres before joint drills with Belarusian forces.

Last year, Russia moved some of its tactical nuclear weapons into neighbouring Belarus, which also borders Ukraine and Nato members Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.

Belarus鈥 authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has relied on close ties with Russia and provided his country as a staging ground for the war in Ukraine.

Tactical nuclear weapons include air bombs, warheads for short-range missiles and artillery munitions and are meant for use on a battlefield.

A pilot sits in a cockpit of a MiG-31 fighter jet of the Russian air force during joint Russian-Belarusian drills
A pilot sits in a cockpit of a MiG-31 fighter jet of the Russian air force during joint Russian-Belarusian drills (Russian Defence Ministry/AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has noted, however, that even Russia鈥檚 battlefield nuclear weapons are much more powerful than the two atomic bombs the US dropped on Japan at the end of World War Two.

Last week, Mr Putin declared that the West is wrong to proceed with the assumption that Russia will never use its atomic arsenal.

Mr Putin pointed at the country鈥檚 nuclear doctrine that envisages the use of nuclear weapons in case of a threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

At the same time, he said he sees no current threat to Russia鈥檚 sovereignty that would warrant the use of nuclear weapons and emphasised that Moscow does not need them to defeat Ukraine.

The Russian leader has repeatedly reminded the West about the country鈥檚 nuclear might since he sent troops into Ukraine in 2022.

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