Russia announced that Saturday, under the supervision of Vladimir Putin, it will conduct maneuvers of its strategic forces, launching ballistic and cruise missiles, amid a crisis with the West.
“On February 19, under the command of the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces, Vladimir Putin, a scheduled exercise of the Strategic Deterrence Forces will be held,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday.
The report stated that “launching of ballistic and cruise missiles will be conducted” as part of the exercises, in which troops from the Southern Military District, Space Forces, Strategic Forces, the Northern and Black Sea Fleet will participate.
These exercises, according to the ministry, are aimed at “testing the state of readiness” of the participating forces and “the reliability of nuclear and non-nuclear strategic weapons.”
For his part, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that it was a “regular training process” that was “preceded by a whole series of notifications that were sent to different countries through different channels.”
He continued, “All this is clearly organized and no one has any questions or concerns because everything is notified in advance,” adding that these exercises “are completely transparent and fully understandable to foreign specialists.”
“They shouldn’t worry anyone,” he said again.
According to Peskov, Vladimir Putin will come from a special command center.
Russia’s “strategic” forces, in their broad definition, are designed to respond to threats including in the event of nuclear war. It is equipped with ICBMs, long-range strategic bombers, submarines, surface ships and naval aviation carrying conventional long-range missiles.
The exercises come in a complete escalation of tensions with the West, as the United States accuses Moscow of massing 150,000 men on Ukraine’s borders for a possible invasion of that country.
Moscow denies any plan in this direction and has announced since Tuesday a series of withdrawals of its forces and pictures of trains loaded with support equipment, but without convincing the Westerners.