With Russia expected to conduct large-scale exercises of its nuclear forces soon as President Vladimir Putin threatens to use them, the United States and its allies will be challenged to make sure they can tell the difference between the exercises. and a real threat.
Russia typically holds annual nuclear exercises this time of year, with American and Western officials expecting them in perhaps just a few days. They are likely to include the test release of ballistic missilessay US officials.
But since Vladimir Putin openly threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, some Western officials are concerned that Moscow may deliberately try to muddy the waters about his intentions.
“That’s why you don’t want to have extraordinarily overheated rhetoric at the same time you’re going to do a nuclear exercisea Western official told the agency. Reutersspeaking on condition of anonymity.
Still, the official expressed “great confidence” in the West’s ability to make this distinction.
The NATO secretary generalJens Stoltenberg told a news conference in Brussels that the alliance would closely monitor Russia’s annual nuclear exercises, as it has for decades.
In the White HouseNational Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the so-called Russian drills would involve large-scale maneuvers by its nuclear forces strategic, including actual missile launches. He described them as “routine”.
“While Russia probably believes this exercise will help it project power, particularly in light of recent events, we know that Russian nuclear units train a lot this time of year,” Kirby said, adding that USA “will monitor that accordingly.”
A US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the russian drills They will take place around the same time as NATO’s annual nuclear readiness exercise, which is dubbed “Firm Noon” and begins next week.
“We believe that the Russian nuclear rhetoric and its decision to proceed with this exercise while it is at war with Ukraine is irresponsible,” the official told Reuters.
“Branding nuclear weapons to coerce the United States and its allies is irresponsible.”
The Russian Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Officials have so far said Putin has yet to take steps to suggest he is preparing to launch a nuclear strike, but Moscow’s nuclear rhetoric has intensified after a successful counteroffensive by the Russian military. Ukraine during the last month.
In recent weeks, Putin has proclaimed the annexation of the Ukrainian territories and has threatened to defend the Russian land with nuclear weapons. A senior NATO official said on Wednesday that any use of nuclear weapons by Russia could trigger a “physical response” from the alliance. (rts)