Russia completed on Wednesday several tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of carrying nuclear warheads in a previously scheduled “Grom” exercise.
Russian state news outlet RIA confirmed that Russian forces fired nuclear-capable ballistic missile missiles from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, some 600 miles north of Moscow, along with a ballistic missile launched from a submarine from the Barents Sea.
Long-range cruise missiles launched from the air were also reportedly fired on Wednesday.
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“The tasks foreseen during the training of the strategic deterrence forces have been completed in full, all the missiles have achieved their objectives, confirming the specified characteristics”, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin observed the “Grom” exercises – which means thunder – from the Kremlin to Moscow.
Despite Western concerns over Putin’s increasingly threatening rhetoric about the deployment of nuclear weapons during the war in Ukraine, defense officials said they were aware of the previously planned exercises.
The Defense Department confirmed on Tuesday that Moscow had alerted it to regularly scheduled missile tests under the UN Charter and, therefore, did not violate any international treaties.
“As we noted earlier, this is a routine annual exercise by Russia,” Brig. General Pat Ryder told reporters. “In this regard, Russia is complying with its arms control obligations, its transparency, its notification commitments.”
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The Brigadier said the US will continue to “keep an eye on” Russia’s nuclear test exercises.
“But beyond that, I won’t have any further information at the moment,” he added.
This week Russia escalated concerns about the threat of nuclear use in Ukraine when it said Kiev was preparing to use a “dirty bomb,” a crude device that relies on conventional explosives such as dynamite but is also paired with nuclear materials.
Ukrainian and Western officials have dismissed these claims as false and warned that Moscow could use these allegations as a pretext to justify its own nuclear use in the war-torn nation.
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Ryder told reporters that the United States “had no indication that Russia made the decision to employ this kind of capability,” but said the rhetoric was “reckless”.
“We have seen Russian leaders use nuclear rhetoric, certainly this is worrying. It is reckless, but it is something we will continue to take seriously,” added the Brigadier.