Russia's nuclear forces have launched fresh drills northeast of Moscow, in the Ivanovo province, according to new Russian defense ministry statements Wednesday.
Reuters cited Interfax news agency to report that "Some 1,000 servicemen are exercising in intense maneuvers using over 100 vehicles including Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launchers," based on the Russian MoD statement.
Some Western media reports are seeing the drill as a response and warning to Washington over the White House approving yet more military aid and weapons to Ukraine, particularly longer range rockets.
Newsweek, for example, writes that "The report follows the announcement that the U.S. has approved a $700m package of security assistance to be sent to Kyiv, which will include helicopters, anti-tank weapon systems and medium-range high mobility artillery rocket systems."
The Kremlin is meanwhile issuing new warnings over the US violating its stated "red lines"…
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV SAYS THERE ARE RISKS THAT A THIRD COUNTRY COULD BECOME INVOLVED IN UKRAINE CONFLICT DUE TO SUPPLIES OF ROCKET LAUNCHERS
It also comes interestingly as a new consensus has emerged that Russian forces are winning in Donbas, amid the latest steady gains over the whole of Luhansk province, and as the final Ukrainian holdout city of Sievierodonetsk is poised to fall to the Russians. The fresh White House move to send in longer range rockets (which are in effect 'medium-range') seems aimed at stalling the Russian gains made in Donbas.
The Biden administration last week said it would reject the possibility of sending long-range rockets, fearing things could spiral toward rapid escalation with Russia, after the Kremlin declared "red lines" concerning this type of major West-supplied weaponry.
In President Biden's Tuesday New York Times op-ed outlining "what America will do and not do in Ukraine," he stressed that he doesn't believe Russia intends to use nuclear weapons. "I know many people around the world are concerned about the use of nuclear weapons," he began on this point.
Location of Wednesday's drills in Ivanovo Oblast:
"We currently see no indication that Russia has intent to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, though Russia’s occasional rhetoric to rattle the nuclear saber is itself dangerous and extremely irresponsible. Let me be clear: Any use of nuclear weapons in this conflict on any scale would be completely unacceptable to us as well as the rest of the world and would entail severe consequences," the president said.