News ID: 100124
Publish Date : 18 February 2022 - 22:14

Russia to Stage Massive Nuclear Drills

MOSCOW (Dispatches) — The Russian military on Friday announced massive drills of its strategic nuclear forces.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will personally oversee Saturday’s exercise, which will involve multiple practice launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, the Defense Ministry said.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, during talks with Putin on Friday on Moscow, said he would also take part in overseeing Saturday’s drills.
The war games follow U.S. President Joe Biden’s caliming that Russia could invade Ukraine within days.
The Kremlin insists it has no plans to invade. But Moscow has demanded that the U.S. and its allies keep Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations out of the NATO military alliance, not deploy weapons in Ukraine and pull back NATO forces from Eastern Europe.
Washington and its allies bluntly rejected the Russian demands, and Moscow threatened to take unspecified “military-technical measures” if the West continued to stonewall.
The ministry said it planned the maneuvers some time ago to check the readiness of Russia’s military command and personnel, as well as the reliability of its nuclear and conventional weapons.
The defense ministry said the exercise will include multiple practice launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The air force, units of the southern military district, as well as the Northern and Black Sea fleets would be involved in the huge nuclear drills.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia was being transparent about Saturday’s exercises, had given notice to all proper channels, and that they “should not because anyone concern”, the TASS news agency reported.
He said Putin’s role was essential, and the president was likely to take part from a “situation centre”.
Russia holds huge drills of its strategic nuclear forces on an annual basis, but the maneuvers planned for Saturday pointedly involve the Black Sea Fleet.
Meanwhile, shelling in eastern Ukraine has reignited fears of further escalation.

Ukraine, Rebels Trade Shelling Accusations

Pro-Russia secessionists in eastern Ukraine have accused the West-backed Ukrainian government forces of launching an artillery barrage on a frontline village, with Moscow raising deep concern over the latest flare-up.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said the shelling targeted Petrivske village in the breakaway region in the wee hours of Friday. Another self-proclaimed republic, Luhansk, also reported two incidents of mortar fire.
“The situation on the line of contact has sharply escalated. The enemy is making attempts to unleash active hostilities,” a message posted on its Telegram channel said.
The Interfax report cited a separatist leader as saying that the Ukrainian government forces had opened fire on several of their positions in a bid to escalate the conflict.
He described the shelling as a “large-scale provocation” and said that they had returned the fire.
The development came as Kyiv and the pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine blamed each other for fueling fresh tensions after exchanging artillery and mortar attacks on Thursday.
Ukraine accused the Russian-backed rebels of shelling a kindergarten in the Ukrainian-controlled town of Stanytsia Luhanska, injuring two teachers.
The country’s military in a statement posted on social media said the separatists had rained down artillery, mortar rounds and other munitions at its position across the line of control.
On Friday, the Ukrainian joint command center for the eastern front said the rebels had violated the ceasefire 20 times between midnight and 9.00 am while the Donetsk and Lugansk separatist groups said the army had fired 27 times.
Kyiv and the secessionist forces in eastern Ukraine have been at war for eight years. The truce between the warring sides has turned out to be fragile, with intermittent violations, most recently this week.
The Kremlin said Moscow was alarmed by the situation in eastern Ukraine and that the situation there looked potentially very dangerous.
Washington accused Moscow of looking for a pretext for war and claimed that the Russian troops engaged in drills near the Ukraine border could possibly get involved.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, however, said the chance of a large-scale escalation of conflict is low, while Russia said it is withdrawing more troops and equipment from near Ukraine’s borders.
The escalation came as the office of the UN secretary-general announced that Russia has submitted documents regarding alleged war crimes by the Ukrainian military against civilians in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass.
Russia Expels U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission
Russia has expelled U.S. deputy chief of diplomatic mission Bart Gorman from the country, the US Embassy announced on Thursday.
Washington considers the move unjustified as the official had a three-year visa and his stay in Russia hadn’t exceeded three years, the embassy said, emphasizing that the United States would respond to Gorman’s expulsion, RIA Novosti reported.
The expulsion of Gorman comes a month after Washington told Russian diplomats at the Embassy in the United States to leave the country. The U.S. State Department explained the decision by saying that more than 50 diplomats and their families had to leave due to expiring visas. Moscow, in turn, called the move an expulsion.