Russia announced Monday that it intends to hold new tactical nuclear weapons drills “in the near future” amid rising tensions with the West over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Why it matters: This is the first time that Russia has announced drills for the weapons, which are designed for battlefield use and include artillery munitions and warheads for short-range missiles, AP reported.

  • They are smaller than so-called “strategic” nuclear weapons, which are intended to target cities. Russia regularly holds exercises for its strategic nuclear forces, per AP.

Driving the news: Russia’s Ministry of Defense said in a Telegram post that the drills are intended to “increase the readiness of non-strategic nuclear forces to carry out combat missions.”

  • Russia’s Ministry of Defense said the drills were in response to a series of “provocative statements” from Western officials.