Russia Announces Missile Test Launches Amid Ukraine Tensions

  • Russia announced plans to hold missile test launches on Saturday.
  • The defense ministry said it will test the readiness of its nuclear and non-nuclear forces.
  • The statement came a day after Russia threatened to take military action amid escalating tensions over Ukraine.

Russia announced plans to hold missile test launches the day after threatening a military response in the escalating standoff with Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that the drills would be held on Saturday to test the combat readiness and weaponry of its nuclear and non-nuclear forces, the country’s RIA news agency and Izvestia newspaper reported.

The ministry said in a statement, according to RIA: “The exercise of the strategic deterrence forces was planned earlier to check the readiness of military command and control bodies, launch combat crews, crews of warships and strategic missile carriers to carry out assigned tasks, as well as the reliability of the weapons of strategic nuclear and non-nuclear forces.”

RIA reported that the Aerospace Forces, Southern Military District, Strategic Missile Forces, and Northern and Black Sea Fleets would take part in the exercises. The Southern Military District and Black Sea Fleet operate near Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will personally oversee the tests, the state-owned TV network Zvezda reported.

“Such exercises, even such training launches, are impossible without the head of state,” the Kremlin press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said, according to the network.

Russia on Thursday warned that it could be “forced to join” militarily if the US did not agree to its security demands, which include permanently barring the former Soviet states Ukraine and Georgia from — something the US has refused to do.

Russia built up more than 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s border in recent weeks, and Ukraine, NATO, the US, and other Western countries have warned that an invasion could happen soon.

President Joe Biden said on Thursday that there was a “very high” risk that Russia will invade Ukraine in the next few days.

Around 500 explosions were recorded in Ukraine between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, an international security monitor on Thursday told the UN Security Council.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Thursday that Russia “plans to manufacture a pretext for its attack” on Ukraine.

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