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NATO begins nuclear exercises as tensions rise in Russia

Although the drills come during a time of high international tensions, NATO emphasizes that the event is recurring and not based on any current events

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An F/A-18 E is tied down on the deck the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford off the Virginia Coast.

An F/A-18 E is tied down on the deck the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, off the Virginia Coast. After years of delays and problems with new technology the U.S. Navy’s most advanced aircraft carrier embarked on it’s first deployment and will train with other NATO countries.

Steve Helber, Associated Press

NATO announced on Friday that its nations will begin conducting “Steadfast Noon” on Monday, a nuclear exercise involving 14 countries and around 60 different types of aircraft over northwestern Europe. The drills will continue until Oct. 30.

No cause for alarm: NATO emphasized that the event is recurring and “is not linked to any current world events,” and that no live weapons will be used.

  • Hosted by a different NATO country each year, Steadfast Noon “helps ensure that the Alliance’s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective,” said Oana Lungescu, a NATO spokesperson.

Details: The B-52 bomber planes involved in the drills will depart from the Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and will then travel over Belgium — the host country — also passing over the North Sea and the United Kingdom.

  • The Associated Press notes that the drills were planned well before Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine in February.
  • NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg stated that the drills will proceed, despite international tension, stating that cancellation would send a “very wrong signal,” according to Reuters.
  • He argued that NATO’s military strength is the “best way to prevent any further escalation of tensions.”

Worth noting: Russia’s annual nuclear exercise, Grom, is supposed to take place at the end of the month, according to CNN.

  • The drill is expected to stay within the normal bounds that it usually does, but the Pentagon states it will watch for any unusual activity.
  • “We believe that that Russian nuclear rhetoric and its decision to proceed with this exercise while at war with Ukraine is irresponsible. Brandishing nuclear weapons to coerce the United States and its allies is irresponsible,” a senior defense official told CNN.
  • John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, told CNN that Russia’s drill will include live missile launches and deployment of “strategic assets.”