BY TOM O’CONNOR ON 12/09/20 AT 9:05 PM EST
The Russian armed forces have conducted an exercise of their nuclear capabilities including a series of ballistic and cruise missile launches overseen by President Vladimir Putin.
A roughly two-and-a-half-minute video released Wednesday by the Russian Defense Ministry displayed air, land and sea assets of the country’s nuclear triad. An accompanying statement identified the training as part of the military’s training plan and said that the “objectives of the exercises were fulfilled.”
In one scene, Tu-160 and Tu-95MS bombers that took off from the Engels and Ukrainka airfields fired off Kh-101 and Kh-555 air-launched cruise missiles.
Another clip showed Project 667BDRM Delfin-class nuclear-powered missile-carrying submarine Karelia launching an R-29RMU Sineva submarine-launched ballistic missile from below the waters of the Barents Sea.
To complete the strategic trilogy, an RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from a vehicle at the Plesetsk spaceport.
Test targets were struck at the Kura and Pemboi proving grounds, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
Russia is believed to be in possession of the world’s largest nuclear stockpile, though its arsenal is limited by the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the latest instalment of a series of bilateral agreements first reached with the United States just months before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Three decades later, as a resurgent Russian military revamps its armed forces, the deal is on the verge of expiration. Efforts by Washington and Moscow to extend the treaty ahead of a February 4 deadline have so far failed, even with Putin’s proposal to unconditionally extend New START and freeze nuclear warhead production for a year.
The treaty’s collapse would follow the deaths of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002 and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty last year, leaving the U.S. and Russia without any arms control agreements for the first time since the middle of the Cold War.
Rather than renew the deal, however, President Donald Trump’s administration has sought a new one including additional countries such as China, which has refused to join, and a wider range of weapons platforms that have emerged over the past decade.
Moscow has developed a number of new nuclear-capable weapons, including hypersonic missiles billed as being able to avoid even the most sophisticated missile defenses.
And while Russia’s preparations for the possibility of nuclear war appeared to go as planned Wednesday, they reportedly went awry elsewhere that same day.
On Wednesday, the Russian Interior Ministry reported on the theft of around 39 pieces of radio equipment from an Ilyushin Il-80 aircraft at the Yuzhny airfield in the southern city of Taganrog. This particular plane was specially designed as a mobile command center to house Russian leadership in the event of a nuclear strike or another national catastrophe, according to media outlets such as Ren-TV.
The cost of this theft was projected to be at least $13,600. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called the robbery an “emergency situation” and promised “measures will be taken to prevent this from happening in the future,” the Agence France-Presse reported.
Authorities have said the investigation into the incident remains ongoing.