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Vladimir Putin orders tactical nuclear weapons drills amid Western 'threats'

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin has directed Russian forces to conduct tactical nuclear weapons exercises in response to what he termed as "threats" from the West, CNN reported.
Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Putin has hinted at the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons against Western nations. However, Monday marked the first public announcement of such drills by Russia.
According to Russia's defence ministry, the exercises will encompass preparations and deployment scenarios involving non-strategic nuclear weapons.
Tactical nuclear weapons, unlike their strategic counterparts, are designed for battlefield use and possess lower destructive capabilities, as reported by CNN.
The decision to conduct these drills follows what the defence ministry describes as "provocative statements and threats" from Western officials, which Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov characterised as reaching "unprecedented levels."
French President Emmanuel Macron, in a recent interview with The Economist magazine, reiterated the possibility of deploying Western troops to Ukraine, underscoring the threat Russia poses to European security.
Similarly, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, during a visit to Ukraine, emphasised Ukraine's right to defend itself using weapons supplied by the UK, condemning Russia's illegal invasion.
The announcement of the drills comes amidst the passage of a long-delayed aid package by the United States for Kyiv, aimed at bolstering Ukraine's military capabilities against renewed Russian aggression.
Russian forces have made significant territorial gains along Ukraine's eastern front in recent months, exploiting their manpower and ammunition advantage before the arrival of US aid.
Putin's invocation of nuclear rhetoric often coincides with challenges to Russia's military objectives or increased international support for Ukraine.
After Ukraine reclaimed substantial territories in late 2022, Putin acknowledged the protracted nature of the conflict and highlighted the growing threat of nuclear war.
In February of the same year, Putin announced Russia's suspension of the New START treaty, citing the possibility of US nuclear testing as justification, according to CNN.
While US President Joe Biden and State Department officials have sought to downplay concerns regarding Putin's nuclear threats, they remain vigilant in monitoring Russian actions.
Responding to Russia's latest announcement, the Pentagon emphasised that there has been no discernible shift in Russia's strategic force posture.
Maj Gen Patrick Ryder characterised Russia's decision as "completely inappropriate" and reflective of Russia's history of irresponsible rhetoric.
Reports indicate that the US has been actively preparing for the possibility of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine since late 2022.
In the latest announcement, Russia's defence ministry revealed plans for upcoming exercises involving missile formations from the Southern Military District, incorporating aviation and naval forces.
As tensions between Russia and the West continue to escalate, the international community remains on edge, cognizant of the potential ramifications of Putin's aggressive posture and nuclear brinkmanship, CNN reported.

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