The Biden administration said Tuesday that Russia has given notice that it intends to stage routine drills of its nuclear capabilities amid heightened tensions over the war in Ukraine.
The Pentagon and State Department said Russia had complied with the terms of the last U.S.-Russia arms control agreement in notifying Washington of the upcoming tests.
Although such notifications have been routine under the terms of the New START treaty so that drills are not mistaken for actual hostilities, this one comes as the conflict in Ukraine has intensified and at a time when diplomatic contacts between the two sides have been sharply reduced.
“The U.S. was notified,” Pentagon spokesman Air Force Gen. Pat Ryder said. “And as we’ve highlighted before, this is a routine annual exercise by Russia. And so in this regard, Russia is complying with its arms control obligations and transparency commitments to make those notifications, and so that is something that we will continue to keep an eye on.”
At the State Department, spokesman Ned Price said the notification was "important" even as “Russia engages in unprovoked aggression and reckless nuclear rhetoric.”
“These notification measures do ensure that we are not taken by surprise and reduce the risks of misperception,” he said.
Neither the Pentagon nor the State Department offered details about the Russian notification, which came as Russia accuses Ukraine of plotting to use a dirty bomb on its own territory, a move the Kremlin says could lead to nuclear retaliation.