MOSCOW has accused the United States of secretly staging a fake nuclear attack on TEN bombers 20 km from their border “and putting Russian forces on alert”.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the Kremlin had noticed a significant increase in the activity of US strategic bombers, which he said had carried out 30 flights close to Russia this month.
He claims it is 2.5 times more than the same period last year.
Shoigu complained about what he said was a simulated US nuclear attack on Russia earlier this month.
He said: “The Secretary of Defense emphasized that during the US military exercises ‘Global Thunder’, 10 US strategic bombers fired nuclear weapons at Russia from the west and east.
“The minimum proximity to our state border was 20 km.”
Shoigu said Russian air defense units had detected and tracked the US strategic bombers and taken unspecified measures to avoid incidents.
His ministry’s TV channel Zvezda interpreted his comments as saying: “NATO activity dictates the need to maintain nuclear forces on combat readiness.”
The Pentagon has retaliated, insisting that their exercises were publicly announced at the time and adhering to international protocols.
This comes at a time of high tension with Washington over Ukraine, where US officials are expressing concern over a possible Russian attack on its southern neighbor – a proposal Russia has rejected.
Moscow, in turn, has accused the United States, NATO and Ukraine of provocative behavior, pointing to US arms shipments to Ukraine, Kiev’s use of Turkish drones against Russian-backed separatists and NATO exercises close to the country’s borders.
Pentagon spokesman Anton Semelroth said: “These missions were publicly announced at the time and closely planned with strategic command, European command, allies and partners to ensure maximum training and integration opportunities as well as compliance with all national and international requirements and protocols.”
Top Russian and US military officers, Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov and Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley spoke by telephone, but neither side revealed the content of the conversation.
Global Thunder, which this year put U.S. nuclear-compatible B-52 bombers through their paces, is the U.S. Strategic Command’s annual nuclear and command exercise designed to test and demonstrate the readiness of the United States’ nuclear capabilities.
President Vladimir Putin referred to the apparent episode last week in which he complained about Western strategic bombers carrying “very serious weapons” close to Russia.
He said the West took too lightly Moscow’s warnings not to cross its “red lines”.
Shoigu made the comments in a video conference with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. He said US bombers close to Russia’s eastern borders were also a threat to China.
“Against this background, Russian-Chinese coordination is becoming a stabilizing factor in world affairs,” Shoigu said.
Russia and China agreed at their meeting to intensify cooperation between their armed forces when it comes to strategic military exercises and joint patrols, the Defense Ministry said.
Earlier this month, Russia warned that relations with the West are “almost at boiling point” as tensions rise over migrants at the Polish-Belarusian border.
With NATO and Russian forces playing cat and mouse games, Putin has said he would “simply destroy” any country that invaded his country’s territory.
In recent days, US officials have warned that Russia may be planning an impending invasion of Ukraine, with the Kremlin gathering 100,000 troops at its border.
And Putin’s regime has been accused of inciting the unfolding migration crisis between Belarus and Poland and even sending their own nuclear bombers into the area.
Belarus – called Europe’s last dictatorship – has been accused of “weapons” migration against the EU, which has sparked a tense battle along their border with Poland with troops on both sides.