Russia has notified the United States that its annual nuclear drills have begun, US officials say

Russia has notified the United States that its annual nuclear drills have begun and will include launches of nuclear-capable missiles starting Wednesday, according to two U.S. officials.

The annual exercise has been described by US officials as “routine” around this time of year, but will nevertheless take place against increased Russian rhetoric on the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

The Russian “Grom” or Thunder nuclear exercise typically involves large-scale maneuvers of strategic nuclear forces, including live missile launches, a senior military official said earlier this month. Officials have been anticipating the annual exercise for weeks, but only recently received word from Russia.

“Russia is complying with its arms control obligations and its transparency obligations to provide these notifications,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters Tuesday after confirming that the United States has been notified of the annual exercise.

The Russian exercise coincides with the long-planned NATO nuclear exercise “Steadfast Noon”. This year’s NATO exercise, hosted by Belgium, takes place from October 17 to October 30 and involves 14 countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on October 24, 2022.

Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Pool via REUTER


US B-52 long-range bombers will participate, flying from Minot Air Base in North Dakota. The exercise also includes fourth- and fifth-generation fighters, but no live weapons will be used.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters earlier this month that the NATO exercise is intended to ensure that NATO’s nuclear deterrent capability “remains safe, secure and effective.”

Stoltenberg said NATO will “monitor” the Russian exercise and “will remain vigilant, not least in light of the veiled nuclear threats and the dangerous nuclear rhetoric we have seen from the Russian side.”

The last time Russia held a nuclear drill was in February, just before the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

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