A Russian Army's Topol intercontinental ballistic missile launcher rolls past the Kremlin on May 7 in Moscow during a rehearsal of the Victory Day parade. (Yuri Kadobnov / AFP)
MOSCOW — Russia on Thursday test-launched several ballistic missiles during planned exercises overseen by President Vladimir Putin, news reports said, as a crisis raged in neighboring Ukraine.
The Russian military fired a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile from its northern test site in Plesetsk, as well as “several” shorter-range missiles from its submarines in the Northern and Pacific Fleets, news agencies cited defense officials as saying.
Other military maneuvers involved the launch from an undisclosed location in western Russia of air-to-surface rockets by Tu-95 strategic bombers, and the entry into the English Channel of a Northern Fleet armada led by the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.
The exercises, overseen by Putin and four visiting presidents from Kremlin-allied ex-Soviet states, were staged ahead of Russia’s commemoration on Friday of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.
Putin stressed in televised comments that the war games had been planned in November, implying that they were not directly linked to events in Ukraine.
But he told the visiting presidents from Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan that Russia’s nuclear defense capabilities remained strong and on constant alert.
“You have been able to witness the great readiness and cohesion of our country’s offensive and defensive strategic forces,” said Putin.