Russia launches nuclear exercise in show of military strength
Russia on Saturday launched a nuclear exercise comprised of multiple hypersonic missiles in an effort to display its military strength.
The move comes amid mounting fears from the U.S., Canada and European allies that Russia is on the brink of invading Ukraine.
The Kremlin website featured photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin overseeing the operation alongside Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Russian military commanders were also present during the deterrence exercise, The Washington Post reported.
The Kremlin also said that the Saturday exercise included warships and submarines, which launched Kalibr cruise missiles and Tsirkon hypersonic missiles.
Russian military commander Valery Gerasimov reportedly told Putin that the “massive” drill was conducted in order to indicate that the country is capable of defeating an enemy, the Post noted.
Earlier on Saturday, Russian-backed separatist leaders in Ukraine signed a decree for a “general mobilization” in a move to activate military reserves.
“I appeal to all the men of the republic, who are able to hold weapons in their hands, to stand up for their families, children, wives, mothers,” the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, said in a video address posted Saturday. “Together we will achieve victory, we will protect the Donbas and all Russian people.”
U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin earlier this week warned that Putin appeared prepared to “uncoil and move closer” to the Ukrainian border, according to Reuters.
“We hope he steps back from the brink of conflict,” he reportedly said during a news conference in Lithuania.