Moscow accuses US of repeat nuclear strike on Russia earlier this month

Russia’s defense minister accused US bombers of repeating a nuclear strike against Russia from two different directions earlier this month, complaining on Tuesday that the planes were within 12 miles of the Russian border.

The Pentagon said its exercises were publicly announced at the time and followed international protocols.

Moscow’s indictment comes at a time of high tension with Washington over Ukraine, with U.S. officials expressing concerns about a possible Russian attack on its southern neighbor – a suggestion the Kremlin dismissed as bogus.

Moscow in turn accused the United States, NATO and Ukraine of provocative and irresponsible behavior, pointing to U.S. arms deliveries to Ukraine, Ukraine’s use of Turkish strike drones against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and NATO military exercises near its borders.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow had noted a significant increase in the activity of US strategic bombers, which he said had carried out 30 flights near Russia this month. That, he said, was 2.5 times more than the same time last year.

Shoigu complained in particular about what he said was a simulated US nuclear strike against Russia earlier this month.

“The Minister of Defense stressed that during the US military exercises” Global Thunder “, 10 US strategic bombers repeated the launching of nuclear weapons against Russia from the west and east directions,” Shoigu said in a ministry statement. of the defense. “The minimum proximity to the border of our state was 20 km. “

Shoigu reportedly said Russian air defense units spotted and tracked US strategic bombers and took unspecified action to avoid any incidents.

The Pentagon backed off. “These missions were announced publicly at the time, and closely planned with (Strategic Command), (European Command), allies and partners to ensure maximum opportunities for training and integration as well as compliance with all requirements. and national and international protocols, ”said Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth, Pentagon spokesman.

Senior Russian and US military officials Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley spoke by phone on Tuesday, but neither side revealed the contents of the conversation.

Global Thunder, which tested America’s nuclear-capable B-52 bombers this year, is the annual U.S. Strategic Command nuclear and command exercise designed to test and demonstrate the readiness of U.S. nuclear capabilities.

President Vladimir Putin briefly touched on the apparent episode last week, complaining about Western strategic bombers carrying “very serious weapons” near Russia. He said the West took Moscow’s warnings not to cross its “red lines” lightly.

Shoigu made his comments during a video conference with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. He said US bomber flights near Russia’s eastern borders also posed a threat to China.

“In this context, Russian-Chinese coordination becomes a stabilizing factor in world affairs,” Shoigu said.

Russia and China agreed at their meeting to step up cooperation between their armed forces on strategic military exercises and joint patrols, the defense ministry said.

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