Russia Launches Hypersonic Missiles in Nuclear Drills

Russia has launched hypersonic missiles in nuclear drills in an effort to show strength amid the ongoing Ukraine tensions. 

Sea and land-based targets were hit with ballistic and cruise missiles as part of the country’s annual strategic nuclear exercises, featuring launches of hypersonic missiles named Kinzhal and Tsirkon, as well as other weapons. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart President Alexander Lukashenko oversaw the exercises virtually from what Moscow labeled the “situation center.” 

Analysts have said the exercises were clearly aimed at sending a message of strength and to encourage Western countries and allies to take the country’s demands for security guarantees seriously. 

The NATO alliance expanded to Russian borders after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Russia wants NATO to roll back its eastern expansion, and to promise that Ukraine will never be admitted. 

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia knows that NATO cannot meet these demands. Former communist eastern European countries chose to join NATO. The United States has called Russian demands to roll back NATO presence and to block Ukraine from joining as “non-starters.” 

Western countries fear Russia will invade Ukraine imminently. Russia has massed about 190,000 troops on its border with Ukraine and is also currently staging military exercises in Belarus. The United States has accused Russian troops at the border of advancing, and being “poised to strike.” 

Kyiv and Moscow have traded accusations over new shelling at the border at the end of last week, which saw the worst shelling in Eastern Ukraine in years. 

Russia says that Western fears of it invading Ukraine are hysterical and dangerous, and claims to be pulling back troops. However, Western countries, especially the United States, say the build-up is mounting. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Western countries continuing to ignore Russia’s legitimate rights decreases stability in the region, as well as the world.

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