Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

NATO To Kick Off Nuclear Drills Involving B-52 Bombers On Monday

Nuclear B-52 Bomber

B52 Nuclear Bomber

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  • Putin says no need for massive new strikes on Ukraine

NATO said on Friday it would launch its annual nuclear exercise “Steadfast Noon” on Monday, with up to 60 aircraft taking part in training flights over Belgium, the North Sea and Britain to practise the use of U.S. nuclear bombs based in Europe.

The nuclear drills – which do not involve live bombs – are taking place amid heightened tensions after Russia repeatedly threatened nuclear strikes in Ukraine following major military setbacks on the battlefield there.

“Steadfast Noon” is likely to coincide with Moscow’s own annual nuclear drills, dubbed “Grom”, which are normally conducted in late October and in which Russia tests its nuclear-capable bombers, submarines and missiles.

NATO said the Western drills were not prompted by the latest tensions with Russia.

“The exercise, which runs until 30 October, is a routine, recurring training activity and it is not linked to any current world events,” the alliance declared on its webpage, adding that no live weapons would be used.

“This exercise helps ensure that the alliance’s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective,” said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu.

Belgium is hosting the drills that will involve 14 countries and up to 60 aircraft, including the most advanced fighter jets on the market and U.S. B-52 long-range bombers that will fly in from Minot Air Base in North Dakota, the statement said.

On Tuesday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg made clear that the alliance would proceed with its drills despite the tense international situation.

Cancelling the drills because of the war in Ukraine would send a “very wrong signal”, he told reporters, arguing that NATO’s military strength was the best way to prevent any further escalation of tensions.

Putin says no need for massive new strikes on Ukraine

The Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday there was no need for massive new strikes on Ukraine and that Russia was not looking to destroy the country.

Putin told a news conference at the end of a summit in Kazakhstan that his call-up of Russian reservists would be over within two weeks and there were no plans for a further mobilisation.

He also repeated the Kremlin position that Russia was willing to hold talks, although he said they would require international mediation if Ukraine was willing to take part.

Taken together, Putin’s comments appeared to suggest a slight softening of his tone as the war nears the end of its eighth month, after weeks of Ukrainian advances and significant Russian defeats.

But he was speaking after a week when Russia has staged its heaviest missile attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities since the start of its invasion of Feb. 24 – an action that Putin has said was retaliation for an attack that damaged a Russian bridge to occupied Crimea.

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