It comes after Russia tested out missiles in exercises by its strategic nuclear forces while tension with Ukraine soars. The Kremlin said: “All the missiles hit their targets, confirming their performance objectives.” The drills included Tu-95 bombers and submarines. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added: “Such test launches, of course, are impossible without the head of state. You know about the famous black suitcase and the red button.”
According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the large bulk of Russia’s suspected 6,257-strong arsenal of nuclear warheads are located towards the country’s east.
There is a test centre at Yapustin Yar, not far from the east coast, and an intercontinental missile base (ICBM) base Dambarovksiy, one of the nearest to Ukraine.
There are several more bases, including Darazhnya and Pervomaysk dotted further up the coast.
Russia has almost 20 known missile bases – which can be seen on the map below.
The country has claimed that all nuclear weapons that used to be deployed outside Russia have been withdrawn into its own territory.
Around 1,444 of Russia’s weapons are known as strategic warheads, weapons that are designed to be used on targets.
These are made up of 527 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers, according to data from New Start.
Russia signed the New Start agreement in April 2010, which required it to slash its strategic nuclear arsenal to 1,550 operational warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers by February 2018.
But it is suspected that the number of deployed Russian warheads may be higher.
The agreement only counts one strategic bomber as one operationally deployed warhead.
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Russia is also said to be in the process of modernising its whole arsenal of strategic nuclear weapons and delivery systems.
This includes the development of a number of new systems intended to counter the deployment of US/NATO missile defence systems in Europe.
And this comes as tensions between NATO and Russia have soared after the Kremlin piled up close to 190,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, according to the latest reports.
Russia has said that it would view Ukraine’s membership of NATO as a direct threat.
NATO is now reportedly planning to deploy new combat units to central and southeastern Europe if Russia does not pull back its troops.