Russian Nuclear Exercises Display Putin’s Misguided Priorities

Vladimir Putin on board of a battle cruiser. Photo: Commons

Russia recently held the largest nuclear weapons exercise in its history, matching, for the first time in over two decades, the scale of Soviet-era tests.

Russian President Vladimir Putin presided over a combined exercise of all three components of Russia’s nuclear triad (submarine-based missiles, land-based missiles, and bombers), taking “personal leadership” of the endeavor, according to the Kremlin. He also provided a “high evaluation” of the results, indicating that they proved Russia’s nuclear forces to be reliable and effective.

At first blush, this may seem like saber-rattling, particularly at a time of tension in U.S.-Russian relations over Syria and other issues, even as the two countries continue to cooperate elsewhere, including on Afghanistan and sometimes Iran. The primary audience for last week’s event, however, is Russian.