U.S. Nuclear-Response Drill Begins in Wake of Russian Exercise

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
May 12, 2014, 8:03 a.m.

U.S. Stra­tegic Com­mand this week is con­duct­ing a massive nuc­le­ar arms drill de­signed to “de­ter and de­tect stra­tegic at­tacks” on the United States and al­lies.

A Sunday press re­lease an­noun­cing the May 12-16  “Glob­al Light­ning” ex­er­cise ex­pli­citly noted that the event’s tim­ing is “un­re­lated to real-world events.” Ob­serv­ers of on­go­ing East-West ten­sions will note, however, that Rus­sia on Thursday con­duc­ted its own large-scale nuc­le­ar re­sponse drill un­der the su­per­vi­sion of Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin. That ex­er­cise was widely pro­moted in Rus­si­an me­dia and in­cluded the test launch of an in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­sile and sub­mar­ine-fired bal­list­ic mis­siles.

“Ex­er­cise Glob­al Light­ning 14 has been planned for more than a year and is based on a no­tion­al scen­ario,” U.S. Stra­tegic Com­mand said. Roughly 10 B-52 heavy bombers and as many as six B-2 bombers are slated to take part in the nuc­le­ar de­terrence ex­er­cise.

Mark Schneider, a former U.S. De­fense De­part­ment nuc­le­ar strategy of­fi­cial, told the Wash­ing­ton Free Beacon that Rus­sia’s drill last week seemed aimed at send­ing a mes­sage of “nuc­le­ar in­tim­id­a­tion” to the United States and NATO over Ukraine. He noted that Mo­scow typ­ic­ally stages its atom­ic ex­er­cises in the fall.

Mean­while, Ro­mania on Sat­urday sought cla­ri­fic­a­tion from Rus­sia on its of­fi­cial policy fol­low­ing a tweet from a high-pro­file Rus­si­an min­is­ter that warned he might try to enter Ro­mani­an air space in a heavy bomber, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

After a plane he was a trav­el­ing in was blocked from en­ter­ing Ro­mani­an air space, Rus­si­an Deputy Prime Min­is­ter  Dmitry Ro­goz­in sent out a tweet that stated, “Upon U.S. re­quest, Ro­mania has closed its air space for my plane. Ukraine doesn’t al­low me to pass through again. Next time I’ll fly on board Tu-160.” Ro­goz­in, who su­per­vises his coun­try’s large weapons in­dustry, is un­der U.S. and European Uni­on sanc­tions.

The Ro­mani­an for­eign min­istry re­ques­ted that Rus­sia spe­cify wheth­er the deputy prime min­is­ter’s tweet rep­res­en­ted “the Rus­si­an Fed­er­a­tion’s of­fi­cial po­s­i­tion.”

Ro­mania “be­lieves the threat of us­ing a Rus­si­an stra­tegic bomber plane by a Rus­si­an deputy prime min­is­ter is a very grave state­ment un­der the cur­rent re­gion­al con­text,” the min­istry said.

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