Russia exercises Photograph:( AFP )
Russia test-fired its latest hypersonic, cruise and nuclear-capable ballistic missiles as part of “planned exercises” under the watchful eyes of President Vladimir Putin
Russia on Saturday launched its “planned” nuclear drills hours after the US said that the Russian troops manned near Ukraine’s border are “poised to strike”.
The drills come amid tensions boiling between the West and Russia over the Ukraine conflict.
Russia test-fired its latest hypersonic, cruise and nuclear-capable ballistic missiles on the ground, at sea and in the air, as part of “planned exercises” under the watchful eyes of President Vladimir Putin, who was joined by Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko.
“All the missiles hit their targets, confirming their performance objectives,” the Kremlin said in a statement, adding that the drills included Tu-95 bombers and submarines.
“The main objective of these exercises is to perfect the performance of our strategic offensive forces, with the aim of delivering a guaranteed strike against the enemy," chief of the general staff Valery Gerasimov told Putin in televised comments.
The drills included Russia's Black and North Sea navies, as well as the country's strategic forces, the Kremlin said.
Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said Russian forces were beginning to “uncoil and move closer” to the border with its former Soviet neighbour.
“We hope he steps back from the brink of conflict,” he told a news conference on a visit to Lithuania, saying an invasion of Ukraine was not inevitable.
The US has been accusing Russia of amassing over 150,000 soldiers near the borders even as Kremlin announced that is pulling back.
Joe Biden has been claiming that Russia can attack Ukraine “any time now”.
Earlier in the day, Russian-backed separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine declared a full military mobilisation, a day after ordering women and children to evacuate to Russia, citing the threat of an imminent attack by Ukrainian forces.
Both Kyiv and Washington have denied the accusation saying that increased shelling across the ceasefire line this week is part of Russia's plan to create a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine.
(With inputs from agencies)