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Russia Sends ‘Signal to West’ With Nuclear Maneuvers

The Belgorod nuclear-powered submarine (Special Project 09852) that carries Poseidon strategic underwater drones during the launching ceremony April 23, 2019. Oleg Kuleshov/TASS

The Russian military’s movements of nuclear-capable assets appear to be intended to send a “signal” to the West amid its losses in Ukraine, analysts said this week.

The Pentagon said last week it has not seen any changes in Russia’s movements of its nuclear forces that would cause the United States to adjust its own nuclear posture.

NATO relayed intelligence to allied commands on the recent movements of Russia’s special mission Belgorod submarine, Italy’s La Repubblica daily reported Sunday.

The Belgorod, the world’s longest submarine launched in July, has been modified to carry the new nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed drone called the Poseidon.

Western intelligence believes the Belgorod is in waters near the Arctic for “a series of secret tests,” according to La Repubblica’s report.

“It’s feared to be on a mission to test the Poseidon super-torpedo for the first time,” the newspaper said.

Britain's The Times newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources, that the Poseidon test could take place in the Black Sea closer to NATO member states.

Elsewhere on Sunday, pro-Russian military bloggers spotted a trainload of military equipment that analysts said belonged to a secretive nuclear unit.

Poland-based defense analyst Konrad Muzyka said the convoy belongs to a Russian Defense Ministry directorate responsible for “nuclear munitions, their storage, maintenance, transport and issuance to units.”

Muzyka stressed that the Rybar Telegram channel’s video, which it said showed mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles fitted with turrets, does not appear to show preparations for a “nuclear release.”

“It could be a form of signaling to the West that Moscow is escalating” or preparing for strategic deterrence exercises, he speculated on Twitter.

President Vladimir Putin made thinly veiled threats to use nuclear arms in a series of speeches announcing "partial" mobilization and annexing four Ukrainian regions in recent weeks. U.S. officials said they had sent private warnings to Russia to steer clear of nuclear war.

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