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Moscow orders nuclear exercises

  • May 6, 2024
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Russia announced on Monday the upcoming holding of nuclear exercises near Ukraine and affirmed that its forces could strike British military targets in Ukraine “and beyond”, saying it was reacting to bellicose statements by Western leaders.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder said this was “an example of the type of irresponsible rhetoric we have seen from Russia in the past. It is completely inappropriate given the current security situation.

The United States has so far observed “no change in the positioning” of Russian strategic forces but will continue to “monitor”, he added.

These threats from Moscow come on the eve of the inauguration ceremony at the Kremlin of Vladimir Putin, who will officially begin a fifth term on Tuesday, and three days before the May 9 celebrations of the Soviet victory against Nazi Germany, the central element of the patriotic narrative from the Kremlin.

Since the large-scale attack on Ukraine in February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin has blown hot and cold on the possible use of nuclear weapons.

This time, the exercises announced Monday by the Russian Ministry of Defense should allow the Russian army to “train in the preparation and use of non-strategic nuclear weapons”, designed for use on the battlefield. battle.

The ministry assured that this was in response to “threats” made by Western leaders against Russia.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov clarified that it was “the intention to send armed contingents to Ukraine, that is to say, to place NATO soldiers facing the ‘Russian army’.

He pointed the finger at Emmanuel Macron, whose “very dangerous rhetoric” he criticized, as well as British and American representatives.

The French president recently raised the possibility of sending Western ground troops to Ukraine if Moscow breaks through “the front lines” and if kyiv requests it.

He had already expressed this idea in February, sparking disapproval among kyiv’s main allies, even if some have since taken a step in his direction, particularly in the face of Russian push on the Eastern front.

British targets in Ukraine and “beyond”

Moscow orders nuclear exercises, threatens to strike British targets

Clouds of smoke after bombings in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, May 5, 2024 / Genya SAVILOV / AFP

The Russian military exercises ordered by Vladimir Putin will involve the air force, navy and forces from the Southern Military District, which is based near Ukraine and covers Ukrainian regions that Moscow claims to annex, according to the Russian Defense Ministry .

The date and location were not specified, as were the number of soldiers and equipment mobilized.

Russian nuclear doctrine provides for a “strictly defensive” use of atomic weapons, in the event of an attack on Russia with weapons of mass destruction or in the event of aggression with conventional weapons “threatening the very existence of State”.

At the same time, Moscow threatened on Monday to strike British targets in Ukraine “and beyond” if kyiv used weapons delivered by London to strike Russian territory.

In a statement, Russian diplomacy indicated that British Ambassador Nigel Casey had been summoned on Monday after statements by British Foreign Minister David Cameron which, according to Moscow, concerned “the right of Ukraine to strike the territory of Russia using British weapons.

“N. Casey has been warned that any British military installation or equipment in Ukraine and beyond its borders could be targeted in response to Ukrainian strikes with British weapons on Russian territory,” said the Russian ministry in this press release.

According to Russian diplomacy, David Cameron’s remarks “directly contradict the assurances given by the British side during the transfer of long-range missiles to Ukraine”, according to which they would not be used against “Russian territory”.

The French ambassador Pierre Lévy was also summoned on Monday by Russian diplomacy, without an official reason having been communicated at this stage.

Seven dead near Belgorod

On the ground, a Ukrainian explosive drone strike in the small village of Beriozovka, in the Russian region of Belgorod, also left at least six dead and 35 injured on Monday, according to the local governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov.

Two small trucks “which were transporting employees to their workplace, and a car were attacked by the Ukrainian army using kamikaze drones,” the official detailed on Telegram.

Moscow orders nuclear exercises, threatens to strike British targets

Ukraine: the positions of the military forces / Valentin RAKOVSKY, Sophie RAMIS, Cléa PECULIER / AFP

Later on Monday, he also announced the death of a seventh person in a separate air attack in the village of Nikolskoye.

The Belgorod region, bordering Ukraine, is regularly targeted by Ukrainian strikes, with kyiv saying it is doing so in response to daily bombings by Russian forces on Ukrainian cities for more than two years.