The nuclear testing facilities visited by Shoigu, one of the closest allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, are located at Novaya Zemlya – an archipelago far to the north of Russia, deep within the Arctic Circle.
Novaya Zemlya became a Soviet nuclear testing site in the mid-1950s and was where Soviet scientists detonated the infamous thermonuclear Tsar Bomba in 1961, the largest nuclear weapon ever to be tested. Since the end of the Cold War, Russia has abided by a moratorium on nuclear testing, and the nuclear facilities in the archipelago have fallen into disuse. (Related: RIGGED: Members of the British media have already written articles blaming Russia for a dirty bomb attack in Ukraine that hasn't even happened yet.)
Shoigu flew over the Central Training Ground at Novaya Zemlya, which was the site of more than 130 nuclear weapons tests from 1954 until 1990. He was accompanied by Alexey Likhachev, the head of Russia's state nuclear company Rosatom.
The Central Training Ground is now primarily used for "carrying out tests of advanced samples of weapons and military equipment," according to a statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry regarding the flyover.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu inspected the remote Arctic garrisons of the Northern Fleet, in particular, checked the organization of official activities on Novaya Zemlya, where one of Russia's nuclear test sites is located.
— Victor vicktop55 (@vicktop55) August 12, 2023
The Kremlin has repeatedly claimed that it plans to "stick to the moratorium" on nuclear testing. But in February, Putin suspended Russia's participation in the START Treaty, which puts limits on Moscow's and Washington's nuclear arsenals.
Putin has also ordered Rosatom to be ready to resume nuclear testing – but only if Washington does so first.
"Of course, we will not be the first to do this," said Putin. "But if the United States tests, then we will… No one must be under any dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed."
On the 25th anniversary of the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in early April, British and French government officials noted in a joint statement that they wished to "express their concern over Russia's announcement that it will ensure its preparedness to conduct a nuclear test."
"We reiterate the importance of the [moratorium], which Russia has signed and ratified, and of Russia's compliance with its moratorium on nuclear tests," said Britain and France in the joint statement.
The United States has also fearmongered about Russian nuclear capabilities, with President Joe Biden describing Moscow's threat to use tactical nuclear weapons over the battlefields of Ukraine as "real." Biden's statement came around the same time Putin said Russia is moving tactical nuclear weapons into Belarus.
Shoigu's inspection of Russian Arctic facilities also comes as Moscow continues to strengthen its military presence within the Arctic Ocean. The Russian Armed Forces have rehabilitated Soviet-era bases and deployed weapons and anti-aerial systems like the S-400 surface-to-air missile system to the region.
A statement from the Defense Ministry said Shoigu inspected Russian military infrastructure in the region and checked the troops' readiness for actions to protect and defend these critical Arctic facilities.
The Russian military has already deployed a detachment of warships to the Arctic and recently conducted military training exercises in the region aimed at working out what actions to take to protect Russian sovereignty in the waters of the Northern Sea Route.
Tensions have been rising recently amid Ukraine's launching of its highly anticipated counteroffensive back in June after it spent months stockpiling Western-supplied weapons.
Moscow also considered it a threat when Finland and Sweden announced their intention to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Finland's membership was fully ratified in April, and Sweden is expected to be formally admitted in the coming months.
Learn more about the threat of all-out nuclear war at NuclearWar.news.
Watch this interview Shoigu gives to Zvezda News describing the massive losses Ukraine is incurring in its current counteroffensive.