The Russian military conducted a simulated nuclear strike overseen by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, just hours after the upper house of Parliament voted to rescind the country’s global nuclear test ban.
The Russian Parliament approved the bill to the end ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty last week, and it will be sent to Putin’s desk for approval.
The Russian leader said revoking Russia’s 2000 ratification would “mirror” the United States’ stance, which signed but did not ratify the nuclear test ban.
As The Military Times reported, Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu said the purpose of the drills is to practice “dealing a massive nuclear strike with strategic offensive forces in response to a nuclear strike by the enemy.”
While similar drills are held every autumn, Shoigu’s pointed comments came amid soaring tensions between Russia and the West over the fighting in Ukraine.
The nuclear test ban treaty, which banned all nuclear explosions anywhere in the world and was initially adopted in 1996.
It is yet to be ratified by China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel, Iran and Egypt.
However, there are mounting concerns that the Russian military could move to resume nuclear strike tests in order to flex power and deter the US from offering military support to Ukraine.
Putin said he has not yet formed an opinion on the issue of conducting nuclear tests.
Earlier this month, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow will continue to respect the ban, and would only resume tests if Washington does.
On Wednesday, Ryabkov said the Russian Foreign Ministry received proposals from the US to resume a dialogue on strategic stability and arms control issues, noting that Moscow doesn’t consider it possible under the turbulent political environment.
“We aren’t ready for it because the return to a dialogue on strategic stability … as it was conducted in the past is impossible until the US revises its deeply hostile policy course in relation to Russia.”
The US said it was “disturbed” by Russia’s move to revoke ratification of the treaty.
“A move like this by any state party needlessly endangers the global norm against nuclear explosive testing,” the US State Department said.
As Aljazeera reported, Russia should not be “wielding arms control and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric in a failing attempt to coerce other states,” the State Department added, appearing to suggest that the move was aimed at pressuring the US and other countries who are supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russian forces.
With the abandonment of the CTBT, the last remaining bilateral nuclear weapons treaty between Washington and Moscow is New START, under which the pair used to regularly inspect each other’s nuclear facilities and limit warheads.
Russia suspended the treaty in February. It is due to expire in early 2026.
As The Daily Fetched reported earlier this month, Putin claimed Ukraine has lost “over 90,000 people” since June 4 in its stalling “counteroffensive.”
The Russian leader said the Ukrainian effort to reach Crimea and Mariupol “has failed completely.”
“As for the counteroffensive, which is apparently stalling – it has failed completely,” Putin said in an interview with reporter Pavel Zarubin, published on Sunday.
“We know that in certain areas of the hostilities, however, the opposing side is preparing new active offensive operations.”
“We see this, and we know it. And we are also responding to this accordingly,” Putin added.