NATO on Monday launched its regular nuclear deterrence drills in western Europe.
The 30-nation alliance has stressed that the “routine, recurring training activity” -- which runs until October 30 -- was planned before Moscow invaded Ukraine and is not linked to the current situation.
It will involve US B-52 long-range bombers, and up to 60 aircraft in total will take part in training flights over Belgium, the United Kingdom and the North Sea.
The nuclear drills - which do not involve live bombs - are taking place amid heightened tensions after Russia repeatedly threatened nuclear strikes in Ukraine following major military setbacks on the battlefield there.
“Steadfast Noon” is likely to coincide with Moscow’s own annual nuclear drills, dubbed “Grom,” which are normally conducted in late October and in which Russia tests its nuclear-capable bombers, submarines and missiles.
The drills that will involve 14 countries and up to 60 aircraft, including the most advanced fighter jets on the market and U.S. B-52 long-range bombers that will fly in from Minot Air Base in North Dakota, the statement said.
This drill takes place every year, like Russia does, but always over different countries and locations. This time it involves locations & training flights to be conducted over Belgium, Great Britain and the North Sea.