Russia launches joint nuclear drills with Belarus

Russia launched joint nuclear drills with its ally Belarus, kicking off the second stage of drills designed to prepare their armed forces in tactical nuclear weapons, Russia said Tuesday.

Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin said the exercises are in response to “unsuccessful attempts to drag [Belarus] into an epidemic of color revolutions and crush us with economic sanctions,” according to a post on Telegram.

The development comes as the Russian Defense Ministry said last month their troops were starting exercises to make sure they are ready for potential deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, as the Kremlin warned against Western “threats.”

The first stage of “practical testing” started in the southern military district. Troops were trained to load vehicles with Iskander ballistic missiles. The same missile system was utilized Tuesday, based on the video footage released by the defense ministry. Additionally, Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers and MiG-31 with Kinzhal missiles were being practiced with, Reuters noted.

“The situation on the European continent is quite tense, which is provoked every day by new decisions and actions of European capitals hostile to Russia, and above all by Washington,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday, according to Reuters.

“Therefore, of course, such exercises and maintaining combat readiness are very important for us,” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned that the Kremlin could use nuclear weapons to defend itself. He recently threatened to send nuclear weapons to Western adversaries, but he did not share which countries specifically.

In October last year, Putin said that Russia tested a Burevestnik, a nuclear-powered missile that has a range of up to 14,000 miles. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said last June that its country received Russian nuclear weapons and would not hesitate to utilize them if threats arose.

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