Home » Russia, NATO hold nuclear drills as Ukraine villages pounded

Russia, NATO hold nuclear drills as Ukraine villages pounded

by Mahmmod Shar

NATO and Russia’s military alike are staging planned annual nuclear exercises

By ANDREW MELDRUM Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine — NATO and Russia’s military alike staged planned annual nuclear exercises Wednesday as the Russian president repeated the unfounded claim that Ukraine plans to set off a radioactive “dirty bomb.” On the battlefront, Russian forces pounded more than 40 Ukrainian villages over the past day.

Russian President Vladimir Putin remotely monitored the drills of his strategic nuclear forces, which involved multiple practice launches of ballistic and cruise missiles in a show of force. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Putin that the exercise simulated a “massive nuclear strike” retaliating for a nuclear attack on Russia.

The Biden administration said Russia provided advance notice of the annual drills. NATO is carrying out its own long-planned annual nuclear exercises in northwestern Europe.

Without providing any evidence, in remarks carried by Russian TV, Putin said Ukraine plans to “use a so-called ‘dirty bomb’ as a provocation” and contended the United States was using Ukraine as a “battering ram” against Russia and its regional allies, turning the country into a “testing ground for military-biological experiments.” It was the first time Putin himself made the unsubstantiated dirty bomb allegation, which his officials have been repeating since last week.

Ukraine and its Western allies have denied the claims and contend that Russia, facing setbacks on the battlefield, might itself try to detonate a “dirty bomb” — which uses explosives to scatter radioactive waste to sow terror — or go further and tap its vast nuclear weapon arsenal.

Shoigu on Wednesday called his counterparts from India and China to share Moscow’s concern about “possible Ukrainian provocations involving a ‘dirty bomb,’” according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called Russia’s unsubstantiated statements “absurd.”

“Allies reject this blatantly false accusation, and Russia must not use false pretexts to escalate the war further,” Stoltenberg told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday.

He underlined that the 30-nation military organization “will not be intimidated or deterred from supporting Ukraine’s right to self-defense for as long as it takes.”

Despite the Western dismissals, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that Moscow had information about “an ongoing preparation in Ukraine for such a terror attack.”

Slovenia’s government said Russia has been engaging in a disinformation campaign about the “dirty bombs,” using a 2010 photo from the European Union country’s Agency for Radioactive Waste titled “Ukraine’s capacities to create the dirty bomb.” The photo shows bags containing smoke detectors bearing inscriptions in Slovenian reading “radioaktivno,” or radioactive. The Slovenian government says the detectors contain a radioactive source but it isn’t one of those listed below the photo in the Russian Foreign Ministry release. Slovenia’s government said on Twitter that its radioactive waste is stored safely and is not used for dirty bombs.

While continuing to issue unsubstantiated claims that Ukraine is planning provocations, Putin also is still sending signals that he’s open to negotiations with Kyiv. The latest message came via Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco Embalo, President of Guinea Bissau, who visited Kyiv to meet with President Volodymr Zelenskyy.

“I was in Russia with President Putin, who asked me to forward you what we spoke about, something he thinks would be very important. He wishes and thinks that a direct dialogue should happen between your two countries,” the Guinea Bissau leader said.

Zelenskyy responded at a press conference that Russia’s recognition of Ukraine’s territory, borders, and sovereignty would be a requirement for negotiations.

The exchange of prisoners of war and the return of remains are two examples of the limited cooperation the two sides have been able to achieve.

Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidential office, posted on Telegram on Wednesday that 10 Ukrainian servicemen who had been held as prisoners of war by Russian forces had been returned. Additionally, they handed over the body of Joshua Alan Jones, a former U.S. Army volunteer who Yermak claimed fought for Ukraine and perished in battle.

Ned Price, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, confirmed the repatriation without mentioning Jones. “We appreciate Ukraine’s inclusion of recovery of this individual’s remains in its negotiations with Russia,” Price said.

On the front lines, Ukrainian officials reported that fighting in more than 40 villages claimed the lives of at least two civilians and continued to spread the fear that drives people to seek shelter in air raid shelters at night.

The Ukrainian armed forces general staff reported that Russian forces attacked Ukrainian targets with five rockets, 30 airstrikes, and more than 100 multiple-launch rocket system attacks.

A Russian strike on a gas station in the city of Dnipro, according to a Ukrainian official, resulted in the deaths of two people, including a 25-year-old pregnant woman traveling in a car with her husband. He sustained significant injuries in the attack late on Tuesday.

Russian-installed officials claimed on social media that Ukrainian saboteurs attacked a police station with grenades on Wednesday in the southern port and industrial city of Kherson. There were no reports of casualties right away.

Local authorities say that on Tuesday, missiles impacted homes and buildings in the southern port city of Mykolaiv, though it is still unknown if anyone was hurt. An increase in strikes was noted early on Wednesday.

Each person in Mykolaiv is eligible to receive free bread once every three days at the city’s only food distribution center. Many people have long distances to walk.

I only eat bread and food from cans. Winter is almost here, and it’s terrifying,” said 70-year-old Anna Bilousova. Olena Motuzko, 74, must leave her disabled husband alone for hours at a time, so getting the food is a hassle for her.

Others are making an effort to survive by caving in at night.

A 73-year-old woman spends her days cleaning and cooking at home, and every night she and her family go to a small, improvised sleeping area in the basement. Since the war started in late February, she has been doing that every night.

For security reasons, Valentyna requested that her last name not be used. She calls the sound of incoming attacks “very scary.”

She said, sitting in her makeshift bedroom, “My nervous system can’t handle it.”

Leave a Comment

What You Need to Know

Main News is an online news outlet that provides readers with up-to-date news stories from around the world.