Nuclear drills: Putin urged to test atomic bomb

Russian rescue workers practise evacuating citizens as nuclear expert urges 'show of force'

Vladimir Putin
An ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin has called for nuclear weapons testing to take place in the Arctic Ocean
(Image credit: Mikhail Klimentyev / SPUTNIK / AFP via GettyImages)

Russia is reportedly holding nationwide drills today to practise evacuating civilians in the event of a nuclear conflict.

Leaked documents published by Baza, a Russian media outlet with links to Vladimir Putin's security services, indicated the extensive nature of Tuesday's test. Rescue workers will be tasked with removing "large numbers of people from hypothetical 'radiation zones'", The Telegraph reported. 

While Russia holds civil defence drills annually, this will be the first time they have happened on such a large scale, said Newsweek. The test will assume the nation is "at least partially under martial law", and envisage that "up to 70 percent of the country's housing facilities have been destroyed". 

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However, it is "unclear how many civilians, if any, will be involved", The Telegraph added.

The drills come as the head of a Kremlin-backed nuclear research centre called on Russia to "test an atomic bomb to intimidate the West", The Times reported.

Mikhail Kovalchuk, head of the Kurchatov Institute, "is said to be close to Putin" and suggested an "atomic weapons test in the Arctic Ocean as a show of force", the newspaper added.

The Putin ally is said to have drawn comparisons with the testing of the Tsar Bomba in 1961. He argued that test "forced the United States to negotiate with the Soviet Union and drop its 'aggressive' rhetoric", said The Times. 

"Satellite imagery and aviation data suggest that Russia may be preparing to test an experimental nuclear-powered cruise missile – or may have recently tested one – with a theoretical range of thousands of miles," reported The New York Times.

Russia carried out at least 13 tests between 2017 and 2019, "all of which were unsuccessful", the newspaper added. "And mishaps can be deadly."

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