U.S. B-52 bombers and around 60 other aircraft are taking part in NATO’s weeks-long nuclear exercise, which kicks off on Monday amid Russian threats of nuclear war.
According to a statement by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), 14 countries and up to 60 aircraft will take part in the nuclear exercise known as “Steadfast Noon.” A NATO official said part of the exercise would be held more than 625 miles from Russia, VOA reported.
NATO described the exercise as “a routine, recurring training activity” that is “not linked to any current world events.”
Belgium is hosting the exercise, which is scheduled to run from Monday, Oct. 17 to Sunday, Oct. 30. Training flights will take place over the North Sea and the United Kingdom, NATO said.
“This exercise helps ensure that the Alliance’s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective,” said NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu.
While NATO branded the exercise as “routine,” it comes at a time when Russia continues issuing veiled threats of nuclear war. In a recent interview with the Russian state-run TASS news agency, Kremlin Security Council Deputy Secretary Alexander Venediktov cautioned against western nations attacking Russia over its war with Ukraine, saying it would all but guarantee World War III.
“For some reason, many believe that a nuclear war can be waged locally,” he added. “We must remember: a nuclear conflict will affect absolutely the whole world – and not only Russia and the collective West, but in general any country on this planet. Its consequences will be catastrophic for all mankind.”
Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent nuclear-capable bombers to a critical Russian military installation where the country keeps part of its nuclear arsenal. The move was another sign that Putin may deploy nuclear weapons.