Russia’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons Drills: Despicable Threatening Behavior Toward International Community

It is absolutely unacceptable to use nuclear weapons as a tool of intimidation. Russia should be aware that silly threatening behavior will further deepen the nation’s own isolation.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia has started military drills that envision the use of tactical nuclear weapons in southern Russian regions adjacent to Ukraine.

It has released images of short-range Iskander missiles pointing skyward on mobile launch pads and sorties of military aircraft carrying Kinzhal hypersonic missiles. Both weapons are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The drills are reportedly to be conducted in three stages, and neighboring Belarus, which allows the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in its territory, will also participate in the next second stage.

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly made statements that threatened to use nuclear weapons in the past, Russia has never publicly announced a nuclear drill with actual use in Ukraine in mind.

The fact that Russia has stepped up its nuclear threats now may be the flip side of the nation’s predicament, as its aggression against Ukraine has become a quagmire and it is unable to even procure ammunition fully.

This despicable behavior to stir up a crisis cannot be overlooked.

Russia claims that the drills are being carried out “in response to provocative statements and threats” by the West.

Russia may want to use as excuses the facts that the United States has resumed its military assistance to Ukraine and French President Emmanuel Macron has mentioned the possibility of sending French troops to Ukraine.

However, that is a gratuitous accusation. It is Russia’s own barbaric actions that have caused this situation.

Compared to strategic nuclear weapons, which can destroy large cities and kill many residents in an instant, tactical nuclear weapons, which are used locally on the battlefield and elsewhere, are said to cause less damage. However, it is obvious from the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that the lethality and brutality of nuclear weapons are beyond comparison to those of conventional weapons.

For this reason, even during the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union (Russia) were bitterly opposed to each other, both countries treated nuclear forces with caution. Has Putin failed to learn this history and absorb its lessons?

In Ukraine, in more than two years since the Russian aggression began, the Russian military has massacred many civilians and forcibly transported children to Russia to be adopted by Russians. The nature of the inhumanity is unignorable.

Putin, now in his fifth term, has replaced Sergei Shoigu, who had served as defense minister since 2012, with an economic expert as his successor. This has led to speculation that the aim is to create a wartime economic system.

It would be extremely dangerous if Putin, while leading military operations, were to reject rational judgment.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 24, 2024)