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Putin Orders Tactical Nuclear Weapons Rehearsals

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Putin Orders Tactical Nuclear Weapons Rehearsals

Russian President Vladimir Putin has directed Russian forces to practise deploying tactical nuclear weapons as part of military drills to respond to what he calls “threats” from the West.

Since invading Ukraine in 2022, Putin has often threatened to deploy tactical nuclear weapons against the West, but Monday was the first time Russia publicly announced drills.

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

Non-strategic, or “tactical,” nuclear weapons can be employed in battlefield scenarios but have less power than strategic nuclear weapons, which have the potential to destroy entire cities.

According to Russia’s defence ministry, the drills were ordered in response to “provocative statements and threats” made by Western leaders against Russia, which Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov described as reaching “unprecedented levels.”

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French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated last week that he would not rule out sending Western soldiers to Ukraine, warning of the threats Russia poses to European security.

“I’m not ruling anything out because we are facing someone who is not ruling anything out,” Macron told The Economist magazine. “I have a clear strategic objective: Russia cannot win in Ukraine. If Russia wins in Ukraine, there will be no security in Europe. Who can pretend that Russia will stop there?”

And, during a visit to Ukraine last week, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron stated that Ukraine may use British-supplied weapons to strike targets within Russia.

“In terms of what the Ukrainians do, in our view, it is their decision about how to use these weapons. They are defending their country. They were illegally invaded by Putin and they must take those steps,” Cameron told reporters after the United Kingdom pledged continued financial and military support for Ukraine.

The training announcement comes just after the United States passed a long-awaited aid package for Kyiv last month, allowing urgently needed military equipment and ammunition to flow to Ukraine as it attempts to firm up its frontlines in the face of increased Russian attacks.

Russia has raised the nuclear threat whenever its invasion of Ukraine has encountered difficulties or when other countries have made additional assurances of support for Ukraine. After Ukraine reclaimed large parts of its territory in late 2022, Putin admitted that the battle would “take a while” and warned of the “increasing” risk of nuclear war.

In February of last year, Putin stated that Russia would withdraw from the New START treaty, a vital nuclear arms reduction agreement with the United States and the only remaining pact governing the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals. According to Putin, Russia will not be the first to test nuclear weapons but will do so if the United States does.

A Gentle Reminder: Every obstacle is a stepping stone, every morning; a chance to go again, and those little steps take you closer to your dream.

Nnamdi Okoli

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