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Russian nuclear military train is seen on the move in 'possible warning to the West'

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 03/10/2022 David Averre For Mailonline

A huge freight train moving specialist military equipment associated with a nuclear-arms wielding division of Russia's Defence Ministry has been spotted on the move, prompting fears of an escalation in Putin's war.

A series of BPM-97 armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and other military vehicles were seen travelling through central Russia in a clip posted on the Telegram messaging app by pro-Russian channel Rybar on Sunday.

The APCs are thought to have been upgraded with more capable turrets, reinforced ambush and mine-proof armour and an air purification system designed to allow its occupants to operate effectively in the face of sustained infantry attacks. 

Such advanced military hardware, the likes of which have scarcely been deployed on the frontlines in Ukraine, reportedly belong to the 12th Main Directorate of the Russian MoD.

This specialist division is dedicated to the storage, maintenance and provision of weapons to the likes of the Strategic Rocket Forces, a Russian military branch that controls nuclear missiles and forms a key part of Putin's nuclear programme.

Military analyst Konrad Musyka claimed the deployment of such units could signal a coming escalation in the conflict from the warmongering Russian president or constitute a precursor to large scale nuclear drills. 

It comes as NATO warned member states that Russia's state-of-the-art Belgorod nuclear submarine has left its White Sea base, while key Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov said Russia's military should use 'low-yield nuclear weapons' to turn the tide of the war in Ukraine.

A series of mine-proof personnel carriers, heavily armoured military vehicles and transportation trucks were seen travelling through central Russia in a clip posted on the Telegram messaging app by pro-Russian channel Rybar

A series of mine-proof personnel carriers, heavily armoured military vehicles and transportation trucks were seen travelling through central Russia in a clip posted on the Telegram messaging app by pro-Russian channel Rybar
© Provided by Daily Mail

Muzyka said the movement of heavy military hardware belonging to nuke-wielding units does not necessarily mean that Russia is preparing to deploy a nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

But he did suggest it could be a 'signal to the West that Moscow is escalating' the conflict, adding that Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces (RVSN) are known to undergo extensive training drills in autumn.

The RVSN is a branch of Russia's armed forces that constitutes a cornerstone of the nation's nuclear defence and deterrence programme, which is the largest and most advanced in the world.

It is made up of dozens of missile regiments who together control thousands of nuclear capable weapons, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and are responsible for the maintenance and protection of their launch centres. 

'We're in a situation in which superiority in resources and conventional weaponry is on the side of the West,' said Vasily Kashin, a military and political analyst at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

'But Russia's power is based on its nuclear arsenal.'

Muzyka also posited that the movement of such hardware could signify preparations for Russia's infamous 'Grom' (Thunder) nuclear deterrence exercise.

Last conducted in October 2019, the Grom military drills see divisions from the trifecta of Russia's land, air and sea-based nuclear arsenals come together to test their operational response in the event of a nuclear conflict. 

The drills saw tens of thousands of troops take part in nuclear readiness tests alongside more than 200 ICBM launch stations, hundreds of military aircraft, and several nuclear warships and submarines, according to The Diplomat.

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu last year announced that the Grom exercises would be held again in 2022, though it is unclear whether the conflict in Ukraine will bring to bear any changes to the programme. 

The Belgorod - a 600ft Russian nuclear submarine capable of carrying the Poseidon doomsday weapon - has left its base in the White Sea, a NATO warning note has said

The Belgorod - a 600ft Russian nuclear submarine capable of carrying the Poseidon doomsday weapon - has left its base in the White Sea, a NATO warning note has said
© Provided by Daily Mail

Concerns over the movement of the 12th Main Directorate's military hardware comes as NATO warned a key Russian nuclear submarine has left its base in the White Sea in northern Russia.

The warning note claimed the K-329 Belgorod submarine, which only entered active service with Russia's navy in July 2022, may be headed to the Kara Sea to test the feared Poseidon underwater nuclear drone.

Poseidon is said to be capable of travelling huge distances underwater before detonating with enough force to trigger a nuclear tsunami designed to drown and irradiate coastal cities. 

The Kara sea is located off the eastern coast of Novaya Zemlya - a large Russian controlled island in the Arctic circle which has long been used as a nuclear weapons testing facility. 

It was the site of the largest nuclear explosion ever recorded in 1961 when the USSR detonated the Tsar Bomba - a nuclear device ten times more powerful than all of the ordnance exploded in World War II which was downgraded because its original design was thought too dangerous to test.

Meanwhile, Chechen warlord and Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov wrote on Telegram this weekend that Russia should declare martial law in border towns close to Ukraine and deploy low-yield nuclear weapons to reverse recent military failures.

'I do not know what the Defence Ministry reports to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief [Putin], but in my personal opinion, we need to take more drastic measures,' he said.

Kadyrov complained that Putin's commanders had failed to rout Ukraine's supposed 'Satanists and fascists', and made no bones about his desire for nuclear weapons to be detonated on Ukrainian soil.

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