Published: 11:46, May 6, 2022 | Updated: 17:09, May 6, 2022
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Moscow dismisses talk it will declare war on May 9
By ​Ren Qi in Moscow

Russia has dismissed speculation that President Vladimir Putin plans to formally declare war on Ukraine on May 9, when the country has its Victory Day Parade, but also announced it has successfully carried out simulated nuclear missile strikes on Wednesday near its border with the European Union.

The Russian government has so far called its conflict with Ukraine a "special military operation", but some Western media speculated that Putin could be preparing for a major announcement on Monday during Russia's annual commemoration of the victory of the former Soviet Union and its allies in World War II over Nazi Germany.

Some Western experts said the announcement they predict could include a range of possible scenarios ranging from an outright declaration of war to a declaration of victory.

"There is no chance of that. It's nonsense," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in response to the reports. He added that people should not listen to speculation that there might be a decision on national mobilization.

Victory Day on May 9 is one of Russia's most important national events-a remembrance of the enormous Soviet sacrifices made to defeat the Nazi Germany in what is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War. The dress rehearsal of the military parade in Red Square will be held on Saturday as planned.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that apart from Moscow, parades will take place in 28 Russian cities and involve about 65,000 personnel and more than 460 aircraft.

Russian forces also carried out on Wednesday simulated nuclear missile strikes in the western enclave of Kaliningrad, which lies on the border with EU members Lithuania and Poland.

During Wednesday's war games, Russia practiced "electronic launches" of nuclear-capable Iskander mobile ballistic missile systems near those borders, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The Russian forces practiced single and multiple strikes on targets imitating missile systems, airfields, infrastructure, military equipment and command posts, the statement said. The units involved also practiced "actions in conditions of radiation and chemical contamination".

Russia placed its nuclear forces on high alert shortly after the start of its operation, and Putin has warned of a "lightning fast" retaliation if the West directly intervenes in the Ukraine conflict.

Wednesday marked the 70th day of the start of Russia's "special military operation", and Western countries, as well as Japan and South Korea, have imposed rounds of sanctions against the Russian government and its senior officials.

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced sanctions on Wednesday against 63 Japanese officials, journalists and professors for engaging in what it called "unacceptable rhetoric" against Moscow.

The sanctions bar the targeted individuals from entering Russia indefinitely, the ministry said.