Russia to practice tactical nuclear weapon scenario to deter West – defence ministry

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia on Monday said it would hold a military exercise that will include practice for the use of tactical nuclear weapons after what the defence ministry said were provocative threats from Western officials.

The defence ministry said the exercise was ordered by President Vladimir Putin and would test the readiness of non-strategic nuclear forces to perform combat missions.

The military drills will include practice for the preparation and deployment for use of non-strategic nuclear weapons, the defence ministry said. Missile formations in the Southern Military District and naval forces will take part.

“During the exercise, a set of measures will be carried out to practice the issues of preparation and use of non-strategic nuclear weapons,” the defence ministry said.

Russia has the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons.

The exercise is aimed at ensuring Russia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty “in response to provocative statements and threats by certain Western officials against the Russian Federation”, the ministry said.

Putin’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine touched off the worst breakdown in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, according to Russian and U.S. diplomats.

Russia casts the war as a battle with the West, which Putin says ignored Moscow’s attempt at friendship after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union and sought to grab control of Ukraine while enlarging the NATO military alliance eastwards.

The West and Ukraine say they will not rest until Russian forces are defeated, and cast the war as an imperial-style land grab aimed at forcing the country back into Moscow’s orbit.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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