Russia is planning to conduct major exercises for its nuclear arsenal, just days after the country reportedly threatened to drop a nuclear bomb on Ukraine.
As tensions grow between Russia and NATO over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the country's Defense Ministry announced a series of exercises that would include more than 4,000 soldiers and extensive use of air power. In an announcement just a day before a NATO summit, RIA news agency reported that Russia would be "conducting combat missions in conditions of active radio-electronic jamming and intensive enemy actions in areas of troop deployment."
Last week, more than 1,000 Russian troops crossed the border into Ukraine, where they reportedly joined Russia-aligned rebels fighting the Ukrainian government. This led to widespread condemnation from world leaders, who came together to enact a set of economic sanctions.
But Russia has not backed down and reportedly even threatened to use nuclear weaponry on Ukraine.
On Monday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heltey wrote on his Facebook page that Russia has threatened a nuclear attack if the conflict continues.
"The Russian side has threatened on several occasions across unofficial channels that, in the case of continued resistance, they are ready to use a tactical nuclear weapon against us," Heletey wrote.
This week, Russia's foreign minister warned NATO not to offer membership to Ukraine, also telling the United States to steer clear of the conflict.
Sergei Lavrov urged both sides of the conflict to accept a peace treaty outlined by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
"It is precisely at such a moment when a chance has emerged to start solving specific problems between Kiev and the militias that some sections of the Kiev authorities make demands for Ukraine to drop its non-aligned status and start joining NATO," Lavrov said at talks with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a rights and security group.
As threats of nuclear war linger, Vladimir Putin has reportedly upped his rhetoric regarding Ukraine. This week, EU President Jose Manuel Barroso said Putin claimed his forces could take over the Ukrainian capital Kiev within two weeks if they wanted to.