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Putin Watches First Russian Nuclear Drill Since Invasion of Ukraine

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Vladimir Putin has overseen annual exercises by Russia’s strategic nuclear forces at a time of heightened tensions with the West over his eight-month-long war in Ukraine.

Ballistic and cruise missiles were launched from the Arctic to Russia’s Far East, the Kremlin said.

The US was told about the drill under the terms of the New Start arms treaty.

The launches took place as Russia makes unsubstantiated claims that Ukraine was plotting to use a “dirty bomb”.

A “dirty bomb” is an explosive device mixed with radioactive material and the Russian allegations have been widely rejected by Western countries as false.

Kyiv warned the claims indicate Moscow itself could be preparing such an attack. The last Russian nuclear drill took place five days before it invaded Ukraine.

Ahead of the latest exercise, military officials in Washington pointed out that, in notifying the US, the Russians were complying with arms control obligations.

Nato is also staging its own nuclear exercises, dubbed Steadfast Noon, in north-western Europe.

A Yars inter-continental ballistic missile was launched from Plesetsk cosmodrome, some 800km (500 miles) north of Moscow, and a Sineva ballistic missile was fired from the Barents Sea to the remote Kura test site in Kamchatka province in Russia’s Far East, the Kremlin said.

All missiles reached their targets, it added.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was seen on Russian TV saying that the aim of the drill was for military command and control to practise carrying out “a massive nuclear strike by the strategic nuclear forces in retaliation for the enemy’s nuclear strike”.

President Putin was shown on Russian TV watching a video feed of the launch.

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