Russia's Defense Ministry informed China on Tuesday that US strategic bombers recently conducted training exercises which envisioned Russia as a target for nuclear strikes.
Speaking to Chinese Defense Minister and top PLA General Wei Fenghe, Russia's defense chief Sergey Shoigu described that "this month, during US strategic forces exercise Global Thunder, ten strategic bombers practiced the option of using nuclear weapons against Russia almost simultaneously from the Western and Eastern directions."
Crucially he emphasized the threat is ultimately aimed at China too, as "such actions of the US strategic bomber aviation pose a threat not only to Russia but also to China," according to the remarks cited in state media.
He also informed the PLA chief that "We are witnessing a considerable increase in the US strategic bombers' activity near the Russian borders. Over the past month, they conducted about 30 flights to the borders of the Russian Federation, or 2.5 times more compared to the same period of last year."
The virtual meeting among the defense chiefs came as Washington and some European allies, including officials in Kiev, have charged the Kremlin with a threatening build-up of forces near Ukraine, and after the Biden administration was reported to have briefed the European partners that Russia is "planning an invasion" of eastern Ukraine.
The militaristic rhetoric has only grown as a result, with US News and World Report describing that tensions are dangerously approaching a breaking point:
Through a series of public statements and posts through its state news services, leaders in Russia on Monday presented the unified case that Ukraine was needlessly deploying its military forces to challenge Russia’s sovereignty and its nearby interests, that rising concern in the West of military action by Moscow represents only an attempt by Kyiv to mask its own intentions to do so, that the Western-backed peace process for the conflict in Ukraine is broken and that Kyiv’s allies in Europe and North America are not prepared to back up their pledges of support.
So it appears Moscow is ready to call what it sees as the West's bluff over Ukraine. For now both sides continue "playing chicken" with their growing and threatening rhetoric.
The Kremlin has blasted the Western reports as a disinformation campaign, and it's likely that Shoigu's very bold public statements to his Chinese counterpart are meant as a warning related to the rising tensions with NATO over Ukraine as well as the Belarus-Poland migrant crisis.
Shoigu had further emphasized that Russian and Chinese troops are increasingly "interacting on land, sea, and air" - noting the fact that as both countries have come under Washington pressure in recent years, their "trusting and friendly" strategic cooperation has only deepened, now with routine military cooperation and drills.
Gen. Fenghe appeared in full agreement, according to the meeting summary in Russian press reports, saying, "I also support your vision of the military threat to our countries coming from the United States of America."