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NATO is set to conduct its annual “Steadfast Noon” nuclear exercise next week. This year’s week-long event will take place over Italy, Croatia, and the Mediterranean Sea, engaging 13 NATO allies with a diverse range of aircraft, including advanced fighter jets and US B-52 bombers.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg highlighted that this exercise occurs every October, stressing that its main objectives are to reinforce the “credibility, effectiveness and security of our nuclear deterrent” and to send a resolute message about NATO’s commitment to defending all its allies.
The exercise’s announcement coincides with recent tensions between NATO and Russia. Notably, the training predominantly occurs roughly 62 miles from Russian borders.
This comes as concerns are growing after Russia announced its intentions to withdraw from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Initially established in 1996, which, although signed by both Russia and the US, remains unratified by the United States. Russia argues that changes would be coming because of the United States’ position but noted that resuming nuclear tests would only happen if the United States does so first.
Stoltenberg criticized this move, suggesting it displays “Russia’s lack of respect” and challenges global norms against nuclear testing. He reaffirmed NATO’s stance against testing, accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of leveraging nuclear rhetoric to deter NATO’s support for Ukraine.