Putin To Personally Oversee Massive Nuclear Drill On Saturday With Tensions On Knife-Edge 

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Feb 19, 2022 - 02:20 AM

The Russian military confirmed on Friday that it will move up nuclear weapons exercises which had been previously scheduled to take place later the year, as a warning to the West as the Ukraine crisis grows hotter. Typically the drills take place in the fall, but will now be part of the current climate of 'muscle flexing' as the region remains on the brink.

The massive drills of Russia's strategic nuclear forces will take place Saturday, and President Putin will directly oversee it, according to the defense ministry. There were signs earlier in February that the drills would be moved up in time, as the FT wrote: "Russia generally holds its annual nuclear exercises — which involve testing intercontinental ballistic missiles from land, sea and air — in the fall. But the US believes Putin has decided to hold them earlier this year as a show of strength."

Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov notified allies as well as Western countries about the Saturday drills in a Friday statement, saying it should be no cause for concern. Likely the maneuvers will center on the Black Sea Fleet out of the Crimean Peninsula, which will be taken by Ukraine and NATO to be highly provocative. A senior Biden administration official responded to the announcement that it was definitely "escalatory". 

"Practice launches of ballistic missiles are part of regular training," Peskov said. "They are preceded by a series of notices to other nations via different channels."

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has issued an open invitation for Russia to host deployable nukes on Belarusian soil amid the Ukraine standoff, has been personally invited to watch the nuclear drills with Putin. 

According to Congressional testimony from last week by Joint Chiefs chairman General Mark Milley and director of national intelligence Avril Haines, the Pentagon believes the exercises are a "show of force" aimed at both Ukraine and its Western backers in NATO.

Analyst Rebeccah Heinrichs with the hawkish D.C. think tank Hudson Institute described that given Russia has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, "It would be an extremely provocative and harbinger of messages if they did it concurrently with an invasion."

For the past few weeks as Russia-Ukraine-NATO tensions ratcheted up dramatically, and now with the White House unusually talking about 'Russia false flag' scenarios, tensions have been on a knife edge. At the same time, Western media has been filled with shrill headlines warning of a WWIII coming due to "Russian aggression". The US is now giving estimates that up to 190,000 Russian troops have surrounded Ukraine from Russia's south and in Belarus.

This despite Ukraine's leaders themselves attempting to calm the rhetoric, stating their belief that the Russian side has yet to reach necessary troop level capability for a real large-scale invasion.