FEARS of a nuclear clash in Ukraine soared yesterday as it was revealed Russia has moved its terrifying “atomic cannon” to within striking distance of a major city.
A battery of self-propelled guns capable of firing nuclear shells have been captured on video in the Russian town of Vesela Lopan, Bolgorod – just 10 miles from the Ukrainian border.
Social media users posted videos showing the huge 2S7 Pion guns – known as the “Soviet atomic cannon” – within range of the Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv.
The fearsome weapon – one of the most powerful artillery weapons ever built – can carry up to four 203 mm nuclear shells capable of decimating huge areas.
Their deployment came as Vladimir Putin warned nuclear war could erupt if Ukraine joins NATO and accused the West of “complete disregard for our concerns” as peace talks failed.
Biden warned yesterday: “Things could go crazy quickly.”
Kharkiv – a major industrial city of 1.3 million people – is just 19 miles from the Russian border and well within range of the newly arrived atomic gun.
The cannon are hundreds of miles from tens of thousands of Russian troops and allies taking part in the biggest war game exercise since the Cold War in nearby Belarus.
Meanwhile, Russia’s spy chief claimed preparations for war are “in full swing” – and that Ukraine was about to trigger an attack backed by The West.
Spy chief Sergei Naryshkin – who leads the equivalent of the CIA and MI6 – warned the “existence of humanity” was at stake.
He spoke out amid NATO fears that Moscow is now looking for an excuse to invade while denying any intention to strike first.
Russian state TV is increasingly portraying Ukrainian military operations in the disputed Donbas region as “offensive”.
And the FSB counterintelligence agency has detained dozens of young people claiming they are behind Ukraine-led terrorist bomb threats against Russian schools and colleges.
Intelligence chief Naryashkin – a close Putin ally – said: “All combat-ready units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are concentrated on the border with Donbas”.
Accusing the West of stoking a full-blown conflict, he said: “There is a massive transfer of hundreds of tonnes of military equipment and ammunition from US bases in Europe, from Britain, and Canada.
“The contingent of advisers and instructors from NATO special forces is being increased.
“The Western world hasn’t yet come to realise how much the danger of growing mistrust among countries is threatening the existence of humanity.”
He hit out even though it was his boss Putin who stoked the crisis by moving 140,000 troops to Ukraine’s borders in the south and east and engaging 80,000 more in exercises in Belarus to the north.
The war of words hotted up as another Russian station branded British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss a “tankistka” – or female tank driver – after her peace bids were snubbed.
But Kremlin official Dmitry Kozak praised Putin appeasers France and Germany claiming they were “sympathetic” to Russia’s demands on security guarantees.
The second day of war games in Belarus featured a show of firepower from Su-35 warjets, in action just half an hour’s flying time from Ukrainian capital Kiev.