RUSSIA, GERMANY, UKRAINE: Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw the launch of three ballistic and cruise missiles on Saturday as part of nuclear exercises amid rising tensions over the country’s possible looming invasion of Ukraine.
Putin watched the drills which saw the projectiles strike sea and land-based targets in the Kremlin with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Two of the weapons on display Saturday were designed to be able to slip past United States missile defenses, according to The New York Times.
Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed the manoeuvres, following Russia’s military buildup on its border with Ukraine, had been planned for some time. Russia does hold annual drills of its strategic nuclear forces, The Associated Press noted, although in the past they have been held in the fall.
|A mixed air striking group performs a bomb strike during the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills held by Belarusian and Russian troops at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground.|
Meanwhile, Moscow is confronting NATO with demands it knows the alliance cannot meet, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Saturday.
“The danger is now the combination of this massive military build-up with the very threatening rhetoric, putting forward demands they know we cannot meet and say: If we don’t meet them, there will be military consequences,” Stoltenberg told the Munich Security Conference.
“This is a new normal, that we have a Russia which is openly contesting core values for European security and then demonstrating their will to use force or the threat of force to get their will,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, facing a sharp spike in violence in and around territory held by Russia-backed rebels and increasingly dire warnings that Russia plans to invade, on Saturday called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet him and seek resolution to the crisis.
“I don’t know what the President of the Russian Federation wants, so I am proposing a meeting,” Zelenskyy said at the Munich Security Conference. Zelenskyy said Russia could pick the location for the talks.
“Ukraine will continue to follow only the diplomatic path for the sake of a peaceful settlement.” There was no immediate response from the Kremlin. – THE HINDUSTAN TIMES, PTI