Operation ‘Steadfast Noon’ will see deployment of US B-52 bombers in Europe, with no plans to use direct weapons
NATO exercises aimed at improving the alliance’s deterrence, involving strategic jets that can carry nuclear weapons, will begin on Monday, amid tensions with Russia increased on the Ukraine conflict.
The ‘Steadfast Noon’ exercises will last until October 30 and take place in Belgium, the North Sea and the UK. NATO has described the exercises as “schedule” and “Not affiliated with any current world events“While emphasizing that no live weapons will be used.
In total, 14 countries and 60 aircraft of all types will participate in Steadfast Noon. These include modern fighters, surveillance and refueling aircraft, as well as US B-52 nuclear-capable strategic bombers, which will arrive in Europe from Air Base. Minot Army in North Dakota.
“This exercise helps ensure that the alliance’s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and effective,” noted NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.
On Thursday, the Belgian Alliance Against Nuclear Weapons urged the military bloc to cancel the exercises, noting that “in the context of high nuclear tensions with Russia, it is irresponsible“To participate in these activities.
On Thursday, commenting on the exercise, National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said that Steadfast Noon was well planned before Russia’s military operation in Ukraine began at the end of February. He added that the exercises will take place more than 600 miles (1,000 km) from Russia’s border.
Kirby went on to say that the US expects Russia to conduct its own annual strategic nuclear exercises in the near future. “We predict [Russians’] The exercise will last a few days“, he stated, adding that Washington believes it will include action”within normal limits, ” Such as the deployment of strategic assets. However, Moscow has yet to announce any such exercises.