Vladimir Putin has observed a series of new nuclear drills carried out by Russian forces.
The Kremlin leader can be seen watching as military exercises unfold on screen in chilling new footage.
State news channel Zvezda showed Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu telling Putin the exercises were practicing ‘delivering a massive nuclear strike by strategic offensive forces in response to an enemy nuclear strike’.
The exercise involved Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and Tupolev strategic bomber planes.
Weapons were launched from the northern Plesetsk launch site and from a Russian nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea.
‘The tasks envisaged during the training of the strategic deterrence forces were completed in full, all missiles reached their targets,’ a Kremlin statement said.
Similar nuclear exercises take place yearly in Russia.
Max Seddon, Moscow bureau chief for the Financial Times, tweeted: ‘They hold these every year, and Russia warned the US about them in advance.
‘But the last time Russia held one was in February – just a few days before invading Ukraine.’
During the meeting today, Putin repeated Russian accusations of the potential use of a ‘dirty bomb’ by Ukraine.
He said that the risk of conflict in the world and region was high, and that security should be heightened around key infrastructure sites.
Putin’s comments follow unfounded claims by defence secretary Sergei Shoigu that a Kyiv bid was underway to ‘escalate’ the war.
He said, during a call with France’s Sebastien Lecornu, that Kyiv could use a bomb encased in nuclear material that could spread radioactive fall-out across the region.
Shoigu made similar claims during a call with the UK’s defence secretary Ben Wallace.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the conversation between the two men had been ‘professional and respectful’, but that Mr Wallace had rejected Russia’s claim.
‘He cautioned that such allegations should not be used as a pretext for greater escalation,’ the spokesman added.
Russia targeted more than 40 villages around Ukraine over the past day, Kyiv officials said, killing at least two people and sustaining the terror that forces people into air raid shelters each night.
Kremlin forces reportedly launched five rockets, 30 air strikes and more than 100 multiple-launch rocket system attacks.
The attacks come as fears are growing that Russia, facing setbacks on the battlefield, could turn to even more extreme measures to escalate the war.
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