Russia holds nuke drills
February 20 2022 12:02 AM
Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko watch training launches of ballistic missiles as part of the Grom-2022 Strategic Deterrence Force exercise from the situational centre of the Russian Defence Ministry in Moscow yesterday. (AFP)

Reuters/Donetsk (Ukraine)/Moscow

Russia’s strategic nuclear forces held exercises overseen by President Vladimir Putin yesterday, and Washington accused Russian troops massed near Ukraine’s border of moving forward and being “poised to strike”.
With Western fears of war rising, foreign ministers from the G7 group of rich nations said they had seen no evidence that Russia is reducing military activity near Ukraine’s borders and remained “gravely concerned” about the situation.
After Kyiv and Moscow traded accusations over new shelling incidents near the border, France and Germany urged all or some of their citizens in Ukraine to leave and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said Russian forces were beginning to “uncoil and move closer” to the border.
“We hope he (Putin) steps back from the brink of conflict,” Austin told a news conference in Lithuania, saying an invasion of Ukraine was not inevitable.
Russia ordered the military build-up while demanding Nato prevent Ukraine ever joining the alliance but says Western predictions it is planning to invade Ukraine are wrong and dangerous. Moscow says it is now pulling back, but Washington and allies say the build-up is mounting.
Washington and Nato say Moscow’s main demands are non-starters, but in Ukraine fears are growing over Putin’s plans and the West’s ability to prevent a Russian invasion.
Venting his frustration at a security conference in Munich, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the global security architecture was “almost broken”. He urged the permanent members of the UN Security Council, Germany and Turkey to meet to draw up new security guarantees for his country.
“The rules that the world agreed on decades ago no longer work. They do not keep up with new threats. Not effective for overcoming them. This is a cough syrup when you need a coronavirus vaccine,” he said.
The Kremlin said Russia had successfully test-launched hypersonic and cruise missiles at sea during the strategic nuclear forces’ military exercises.
Putin observed the exercises on screens with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko from what the Kremlin called a “situation centre”.
G7 foreign ministers called on Russia “to choose the path of diplomacy, to de-escalate tensions, to substantively withdraw military forces from the proximity of Ukraine’s borders and to fully abide by international commitments.” “As a first step, we expect Russia to implement the announced reduction of its military activities along Ukraine’s borders. We have seen no evidence of this reduction,” they said in a statement.





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