Russia announced plans Friday to hold massive nuclear missile drills amid soaring tensions with the West.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that President Vladimir Putin will oversee “a planned exercise of strategic deterrence forces” Saturday “during which ballistic and cruise missiles will be launched.”
The air force, units of the southern military district, as well as the northern and Black Sea fleets would be involved, it added.
The announcement comes a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned members of the United Nations Security Council Thursday that the early stages of a Russian invasion of Ukraine were “unfolding.”
He pointed to new intelligence showing that Russia is sending more ground troops, aircraft and ships to the region, despite the Kremlin’s insistence it was withdrawing troops from the border with Ukraine.
In the starkest US warning yet of the likelihood of war, Blinken described the crisis as “the most immediate threat to peace and security” and called on the global body to “address” the situation.
Meanwhile, shellfire rang out in eastern Ukraine for a second straight day Friday as the army and Moscow-backed rebels accused each other of provocations.
An AFP reporter near the frontline between government forces and rebel-held territory in Lugansk region heard explosions and witnessed damaged civilian structures, although no deaths have been reported so far.
Still, Russia insists it has no plans to invade and is continuing to pull back its military presence.
“Another military train carrying personnel and military equipment belonging to tank army units of the western military district returned to their permanent bases in the Nizhny Novgorod region after completing scheduled exercises,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Friday.
However, the West says it has seen no meaningful withdrawal.
On Thursday, the Kremlin repeated its demand that NATO forgo future expansion and roll back its presence in Central and Eastern Europe.
With Post wires