Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting at the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Putin directs exercise of Russian nuclear forces

October 17, 2019 - 11:31 am

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has overseen sweeping war games carried out by his nation's strategic nuclear forces.

The drills on Thursday featured practice launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as warships and strategic bombers firing cruise missiles at test targets.

The Defense Ministry said the Grom- (Thunder) -2019 exercise involved 12,000 troops, 213 missile launchers, 105 aircraft, 15 surface warships and five submarines. Putin directed the maneuvers from the Defense Ministry's headquarters.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the exercise was intended to check "the military's capability to fulfill tasks in an armed conflict and a nuclear war."

Russia has expanded the scope of its military drills in recent years amid rising tensions with the West.

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