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Mystery over 'missing' Russian nuclear tests

Russia was to hold its annual nuclear exercises

Mystery surrounds Russian nuclear tests which were due to take place this week and never materialized, amid claims they are being ‘disrupted’ from within.

Moscow typically conducts large-scale atomic exercises dubbed ‘Grom’ at this time of year and in recent days has issued a number of airspace alerts over its usual proving grounds – strongly suggesting that they were moving forward.

But the United States says it has not received any alerts from Moscow about the upcoming tests and there has been no official word from the Kremlin explaining their absence, with the air alerts due to expire on Saturday.

This has led a prominent Russian academic to speculate that Russia’s top brass ‘sabotaged’ nuclear testing – either because they fear Putin is trying to use the weapons in Ukraine or because they don’t work. .

Russia was to hold its annual nuclear exercises

Russia was due to hold its annual ‘Grom’ nuclear drills this week, but so far has given no sign that it is preparing for the drills (pictured, tests in 2019)

Airborne alerts that are usually problems during weapons exercises appeared on Russia's traditional proving grounds this week, but so far no launches have been reported.

Airborne alerts that are usually problems during weapons exercises appeared on Russia’s traditional proving grounds this week, but so far no launches have been reported.

Varlery Solovey, a Putin expert and former professor at the prestigious Moscow Institute of International Relations, claimed two tests were believed to have taken place so far.

One warhead was believed to have been detonated under the Barents Sea and the second was believed to have been detonated at an underground test site in Arkhangelsk, which is on the White Sea, he claimed.

“Both times the tests didn’t happen,” he said. The president received information that there was an emergency, that it did not work out.

Solovey added: “Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence.

“But… if the tests for the third time end the same way, with nothing, [it will look like] sabotage…failing to carry out…orders of the Commander-in-Chief…’

He spoke amid growing fears in the West that Putin’s finger could get closer to the red button as his invasion reverses.

Professor claims two bombs were believed to have gone off so far, and Putin's plans may have fallen victim

Professor claims two bombs were believed to have gone off so far, and Putin’s plans may have fallen victim

Earlier this month, Italian media reported that a NATO alert had been sent warning that the Belgorod nuclear submarine had left its base in the White Sea.

The note speculated that Belgorod may be heading to the nearby Kara Sea to test an underwater nuclear weapon from Poseidon, according to reports.

Poseidon is a one-of-a-kind Russian weapon that state media say is capable of detonating with such terrifying force that it causes radioactive tsunamis designed to drown coastlines or entire countries.

A few days later, it was reported that a train used by Russia’s 12th General Directorate – which manages its nuclear weapons – was heading for Ukraine.

Amid these warnings, Joe Biden has spoken out to share his fear that the world is now closer to “Armageddon” than at any time since the Cold War.

Ben Wallace, Britain’s Defense Secretary, was then summoned to an emergency meeting at the Pentagon this week to have talks that his deputy – Armed Forces Minister James Heappey – said were “incredible”.

Grom is Russia's annual nuclear training exercise and usually takes place in mid-October, but the Kremlin has shown no sign of moving forward (file image)

Grom is Russia’s annual nuclear training exercise and usually takes place in mid-October, but the Kremlin has shown no sign of moving forward (file image)

Fears grow Putin could resort to nuclear weapons as his invasion of Ukraine fails and his army is pushed back north and south (file image)

Fears grow Putin could resort to nuclear weapons as his invasion of Ukraine fails and his army is pushed back north and south (file image)

This has sparked new fears of nuclear escalation, against the backdrop of retreating Russian forces in southern Ukraine.

Sergei Surovikin, overall commander of the “special military operation”, laid the groundwork for a potential withdrawal from the city – the only regional capital that Putin’s forces have managed to capture in eight months of fighting.

Experts have suggested that Putin could detonate a nuclear bomb over the Black Sea or at a remote proving ground to show that Russia’s huge but aging stockpile of warheads is still functioning.

But if Putin’s nukes don’t work, or if his generals sabotage attempts to use them, it could quickly erode his authority and one of the last means he has to wrest victory from the jaws of defeat.

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