The video, obtained by CNN, shows a Russian Kirov-class cruiser being struck by an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, as it transits the Norwegian Sea. While the Navy has not yet confirmed what the video shows, a senior U.S. official told CNN that the drone appears to be part of Russia’s program to deploy small-scale nuclear weapons.
The Russian government has publicly declared its intention to install low-yield nuclear weapons in Belarus as part of its “Kalibr” naval weapons program. This controversial move was met with strong objections from countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, which criticized it as a violation of international law and a serious destabilizing factor in Europe.
At the same time, however, Russia’s use of naval drones to transport and deploy nuclear weapons could be a further sign of Kremlin’s determination to engage in a type of “escalating aggression.” Using UAVs to transport and deploy nuclear weapons allows Russia to reduce the risk of confrontation with other countries and create a greater degree of strategic maneuverability. As the United States and other countries continue to oppose Moscow’s actions, it remains to be seen if the deployment of nuclear weapons into Belarus will continue.