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Russia starts exercises with Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles

A Russian Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launcher parades through Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in central Moscow. (Photo by AFP)

Russia has started exercises with the Yars intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system in a bid to show off its nuclear strength, following the suspension of the country's participation in an arms control treaty with the United States.

Russia’s Defense Ministry made the announcement in a statement on the Telegram messaging service on Wednesday, saying, “In total, more than 3,000 military personnel and about 300 pieces of equipment are involved in the exercises.”

The ministry added that the Yars mobile systems would conduct maneuvers in three Russian regions during the exercises, without identifying the regions.

“Also, strategic missilemen will carry out a set of measures to camouflage and counter modern aerial reconnaissance means in cooperation with formations and units of the Central Military District and the Aerospace Forces,” it said.

The solid-propellant ICBM of the 5th generation, which is known to NATO as SS-27 Mod 2, has a range of nearly 11,000 kilometers.

It can deliver multiple independently targetable warheads, at least three 500 kiloton ones, or six with 150 to 300 kiloton ones.

The advanced ICBM, which was introduced into service in July 2010, is an upgraded version of the Topol-M ballistic missile that can be fired both from a mobile launcher and a silo. It is also capable of delivering multiple nuclear warheads.

Russian President Vladimir Putin seeks to make the Yars missile system part of the country’s “invincible weapons” and the mainstay of the ground-based component of its nuclear arsenal.

Back in February, Putin announced that he was suspending Russia’s participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States, stressing that Russia would continue to pay increased attention to boosting its nuclear forces.

The treaty, signed in 2010, puts limits on the number of the intercontinental-range nuclear weapons that the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals can deploy. It was last extended in early 2021 for five years.

The latest drills come as Russia has conducted joint military exercises with other countries, such as China, over the past year in order to strengthen regional security. Since last year, Moscow has also increased military training with Belarus, holding comprehensive drills on Belarusian territory and boosting cooperation between their armies.

Russia now plans to deploy tactical nuclear warheads in Belarus.

Since the onset of the war in Ukraine, the US and Ukraine's other allies have sent Kiev tens of billions of dollars' worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems. Western countries have also imposed a slew of economic sanctions on Moscow.

The Kremlin says the sanctions and the Western military assistance will prolong the war.

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