Russia to conduct sweeping drills of its nuclear forces

Russia’s military will this week undertake a sweeping drill of its strategic nuclear forces in its latest show of strength.

The Kremlin Defence Ministry said the three-day exercise will begin tomorrow and involve 12,000 troops, 213 missile launchers, 105 aircraft, 15 surface warships and five submarines.

It said in a statement today that the war games will feature practice launches of missiles.

Russia will test-fire 16 cruise and ballistic missiles, including Yars and Sineva intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) during its Strategic Missile Force’s drills. 

Major General Yevgeny Ilyin, the head of the ministry’s international cooperation department, said at a briefing for foreign military attaches that two intercontinental ballistic missiles will be launched at practice targets on the Kura testing range on the Kamchatka Peninsula. 

A Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile test-launched from a missile silo at Plesetsk Cosmodrome in September. Russian will be launching three days of further tests

A Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile test-launched from a missile silo at Plesetsk Cosmodrome in September. Russian will be launching three days of further tests

A Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile test-launched from a missile silo at Plesetsk Cosmodrome in September. Russian will be launching three days of further tests

An S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile launcher during a Victory Day military parade in May. Tomorrow some 12,000 troops, 213 missile launchers, 105 aircraft will take part in fresh drills

An S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile launcher during a Victory Day military parade in May. Tomorrow some 12,000 troops, 213 missile launchers, 105 aircraft will take part in fresh drills

An S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile launcher during a Victory Day military parade in May. Tomorrow some 12,000 troops, 213 missile launchers, 105 aircraft will take part in fresh drills

He added that strategic bombers will also fire cruise missiles at test targets at several firing ranges.

Earlier this month Russia’s military published a video showing a test launch of the Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk base in the Arkhangelsk region. 

According to the Defence Ministry statement, the launch was successful, with the missile hitting its target in the Kamchatka region of Russia’s Far East.

The RT-2PM2 Topol-M can carry a single warhead with an 800-kt yield, making it more than 50 times more powerful than the bomb dropped by the US on Japan that wiped out Hiroshima. 

Russia has expanded the scope of its military drills in recent years amid rising tensions with the West. 

However, the latest nuclear drills, dubbed Thunder 2019, are ‘defensive’ and not aimed against other states, Ilyin said, according to TASS news agency. 

The general said: ‘The strategic command and staff drills Thunder 2019 are aimed at practising the issues of training and employing strategic forces amid a threat of an aggression.

Russia's Defence Ministry said that the latest war games will feature practice launches of missiles. Pictured (above) is a previous Topol-M intercontinental ballistic rocket test-launch

Russia's Defence Ministry said that the latest war games will feature practice launches of missiles. Pictured (above) is a previous Topol-M intercontinental ballistic rocket test-launch

Russia’s Defence Ministry said that the latest war games will feature practice launches of missiles. Pictured (above) is a previous Topol-M intercontinental ballistic rocket test-launch

A Russian surface-to-air missile systems Pantsir S-1 pictured (above) at the Russian military base of Hmeimim near Syria's Mediterranean coast in September

A Russian surface-to-air missile systems Pantsir S-1 pictured (above) at the Russian military base of Hmeimim near Syria's Mediterranean coast in September

A Russian surface-to-air missile systems Pantsir S-1 pictured (above) at the Russian military base of Hmeimim near Syria’s Mediterranean coast in September 

‘I would like to emphasise that the drills’ scenario does not stipulate measures to counter any specific state or a group of countries.

‘I would like to stress that all the areas of the drills are located solely on the territory of the Russian Federation. Foreign contingents will not be involved in the drills.’ 

The announcement comes as President Vladimir Putin visited Saudi Arabia to seal oil deals and use his influence to defuse rising tensions in the Gulf.

The meeting with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes following attacks on Saudi oil installations that Riyadh and the US have blamed on Iran – an ally of Moscow.   

Russia has attempted to keep a foot in both camps – proposing missiles to Riyadh to defend itself, while at the same time warning against ‘hasty conclusions’ regarding Iranian involvement.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, who was kept in power by Russian military might, was this week asked to help protest the Kurds from a Turkish bombardment after the US pulled out of the north of the war-torn country. 

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