A nuclear missile launcher crashed into a road safety barrier in St. Petersburg, Russia, while en route to a rehearsal of a military parade on Thursday, according to local media reports.
The Iskander tactical missile system crashed while it was being transported to the center of the city for rehearsal events ahead of Russia’s annual Victory Day on May 9, the commemoration of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, Russian news outlet Fontanka reported.
The Iskander-M is a mobile-guided missile system capable of carrying nuclear weapons, which replaced the SS-23 Spider.
Fontanka, a news outlet based in St. Petersburg, published two videos showing the missile system on the side of a highway, next to a barrier. According to preliminary report by Russian MoD, the driver was drunk on duty and sacked from military.
“An ‘Iskander’ rammed [into] a road safety barrier…,” the news outlet said in a post on its Telegram channel. “Looks like today’s parade rehearsal is in danger of going [on] without it.”
Rehearsal events dedicated to Victory Day took place in the center of St. Petersburg from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. local time on Thursday.
Local authorities in St. Petersburg have said that security measures will be much stronger in the city for Victory Day than in previous years.
Military parades to mark the day have been canceled in more than 20 cities nationwide, as Russia braces for Ukraine’s upcoming counteroffensive.
Officials in some cities, including Kaluga, Ryazan, Oryol, Saratov, Lipetsk, Yelets, and Tyumen cited “security concerns” in announcing that the parades would be scrapped.
The country’s biggest event for Victory Day typically takes place in Moscow’s Red Square, and consists of a military parade and display of Russian military equipment. This year, a military parade will still be held in Red Square, but the traditional in-person procession of the Immortal Regiment has been scrapped because of security concerns.
On Wednesday, the Russian government accused Ukraine of carrying out a “planned terrorist act” and an attempt on President Vladimir Putin’s life, saying two Ukrainian drones crashed into the leader’s Kremlin residence.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has denied any involvement, saying his country didn’t possess weapons capable of such strikes.
The Institute for the Study of War, a United States-based think tank, said the attack was likely staged by the Kremlin to justify a future effort to mobilize troops for the war, while others, including former Russian diplomat Boris Bondarev, said that theory makes little sense given how humiliating the incident must have been for Putin.
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