Russian President Vladimir Putin took a leading role in the latest tests of Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal, the most comprehensive since the 1991 Soviet collapse, the Kremlin said Oct. 20.
The exercises, held mostly on Oct. 19, featured prominently in news reports on state television which seemed aimed to show Russians and the world that Putin is the hands-on chief of a resurgent power.Tests involving command systems and all three components of the nuclear “triad” – land and sea-launched long-range nuclear missiles and strategic bombers – were conducted “under the personal leadership of Vladimir Putin,” the Kremlin said.
An RS-12M Topol Intercontinental Ballistic Missile was launched from the Plesetsk site in northern Russia, and a submarine test-launched another ICBM from the Sea of Okhotsk, the Defense Ministry said. Long-range Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers fired four guided missiles that hit their targets on a testing range in the northwestern Komi region, it said. “Exercises of the strategic nuclear forces were conducted on such a scale for the first time in the modern history of Russia,” the Kremlin statement said. “Vladimir Putin gave a high evaluation to the combat units and crews and the work of the Armed Forces General Staff, which fulfilled the tasks before them and affirmed the reliability and effectiveness of Russia’s nuclear forces.”
Massive North Caucasus sweep
Russia says it is modernizing a nuclear arsenal that was largely created during the Cold War and will continue to use nuclear weapons as a key deterrent. Meanwhile, Russian troops reported killing 49 militants in a massive security sweep that followed angry comments from Putin about raging violence in the troubled North Caucasus.
The National Anti-Terror Committee said the operation was conducted across several republics of the volatile Muslim region and resulted the removal of some of the most “odious” guerrilla commanders and their followers. The committee said the “large-scale and massive” raids involved both local and federal troops and that 90 militia bases had been destroyed.