The Russian military branch responsible for the country’s nuclear arsenal will hold a nuclear exercise in September that will include over 4,000 Russian troops, according to reports out of Russia.
Russian Defence Ministry officials announced that nuclear forces will conduct “combat missions in conditions of active radio-electronic jamming and intensive enemy actions in areas of troop deployment.” Russian troops will also work to counter “irregular units and high-precision weapons.”
The announcement comes as NATO leaders meet in Wales to discuss the conflict in Ukraine and the war in Afghanistan. The exercise also comes days after Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted his nuclear force at a youth forum.
“I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations,” Putin said. “This is a reality, not just words.”
Russian Maj. Dmitry Andreyev, an official in the strategic rocket forces, said MiG-31 fighter-interceptors and Su-24MR reconnaissance aircraft would take part in the exercise.
Last summer, Russian Tu-95 Bear nuclear bombers flew simulated bombing runs against California and Alaska. Russian nuclear forces also tested their abilities to transport tactical nuclear weapons near its border with Europe.
Russia continues to train pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine and flood the area with Russian weapons and armored vehicles. The U.S. has countered by sending troops to the region to hold exercises of their own. About 200 paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade will travel to Ukraine.
In remarks to the Naval War College in Rhode Island, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that Russian President Vladimir Putin bore sole responsibility for the Ukraine crisis.
“It’s one individual – it’s the Russian president who continues to take very dangerous escalatory action,” Hagel said.