Russia going nuclear: Training 'involves 40 million'
The Russian government has launched a nationwide civil defence training exercise to ensure the country is properly prepared in the event of a nuclear, chemical and biological attack from the West.
Amid growing international tensions, particulary over Russia's conduct in Syria, the Defence Ministry-run Zvezda TV network announced last week: "Schizophrenics from America are sharpening nuclear weapons for Moscow."
Lasting three days, the exercise bing run by the Ministry for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM) will involve 200,000 emergency personnel and the co-operation of 40 million civilians.
EMERCOM stated on its website: "The drill will rehearse radiation, chemical and biological protection of the personnel and population during emergencies at crucial and potentially dangerous facilities.
"Fire safety, civil defence and human protection at social institutions and public buildings are also planned to be checked.
"Response units will deploy radiation, chemical and biological monitoring centers and sanitation posts at the emergency areas, while laboratory control networks are going to be put on standby."
Relations between Russia and the West continue to deteriorate with Vladimir Putin suspending an agreement with the US over the disposal of surplus weapons-grade plutonium, BBC reports.
Under the 2000 Plutonium Disposition Pact, both sides were told to get rid of 34 tonnes of surplus nuclear material by burning it in reactors.
In addition to the nationwide exercise, EMERCOM has announced its intention to build underground facilities beneath Moscow to shield 100 per cent of the capital's population from a nuclear attack.
Russia is currently modernising its nuclear arsenal by introducing a new genration of long-range nuclear bombers, truck-mounted ballistic missiles and nuclear-armed submarines, Time reports.
Despite bilateral agreements to reduce stocks of long-rangle nuclear weapons, the Kremlin is reportedly looking to boost its nuclear capabilities to outweigh the superior firepower of the US.