Putin personally launches four ballistic missiles: Kremlin

Russia’s Defense Ministry said bombers took off from three airbases and launched cruise missiles against ground targets.

Russian President Vladimir Putin personally launched four ballistic missiles as part of military drills, his spokesman said Friday.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin, who is the supreme commander-in-chief of Russia’s Armed Forces, took part in the military exercises Thursday, Russian news agency TASS reported.

The revelation came after the country’s defense ministry said Thursday that three ballistic missiles were fired from nuclear submarines and one was launched from the northwest of the country as part of the drills.

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“The supreme commander-in-chief made launches of four ballistic missiles,” Peskov said Friday. He said the exercises were routine and not directly linked to any international developments, the Associated Press reported.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday that strategic bombers took off from three airbases and launched cruise missiles against ground targets at three practice ranges.

“The training assignments were accomplished in full and all the practice targets were successfully destroyed,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement carried by TASS.

Putin has cultivated something of a tough-guy image — photos of the bare-chested leader horseback riding, diving and spearfishing while on vacation in Siberia went viral. Putin also has a black belt in judo, according to media reports, and has released a DVD, Let’s Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin.

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The military exercises came as international pressure continued on North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on Friday, and said that Pyongyang was building an arsenal of nuclear weapons to “threaten others with catastrophe.”

Since July, North Korea has conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, launched missiles over Japan and test-launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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