Russia on Thursday conducted a nuclear response drill involving the launches of land- and sea-based missiles, amid continuing tensions with the West.
President Vladimir Putin supervised the nuclear exercise, which he asserted had been in the works since November — months before friction with NATO skyrocketed over Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, the Associated Press reported.
The drill involved the simulation of a large-scale retaliatory nuclear attack in response to a strike on Russia, according to Russian news reports. As part of the exercise, a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile was fired from the Plesetsk launch facility in the northwestern part of the country, and two submarines assigned to the Pacific and Northern fleets test-fired long-range ballistic missiles, according to the Russian defense ministry.
Putin supervised the exercise from defense ministry headquarters where he was accompanied by the presidents of Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Tensions between Russia and NATO have risen to their highest point since the end of the Cold War. U.S. European Command head Gen. Philip Breedlove on Tuesday said the alliance would weigh whether to permanently base military personnel in Eastern Europe as a response to events in Ukraine.
Were NATO to take that step, Russia could retaliate by fielding tactical Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad exclave, which borders multiple alliance countries, the former head of the Russian defense ministry’s international agreements department told RIA Novosti.
“Russia is a nuclear power,” Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Buzhinsky said. “If NATO becomes more active, we will deploy a division of Iskander missiles in [the] Kaliningrad region.
Moscow has warned repeatedly over the years that it could deploy the ballistic missile to its exclave, which is situated between Poland and Lithuania. The latter country earlier this week said Russia had unilaterally suspended a bilateral agreement that permits Lithuania to inspect Russian forces in Kaliningrad.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.