MOSCOW -- After an explosion killed five nuclear engineers last week at a northern Russian weapons research center, and reportedly resulted in a spike in radiation in the surrounding region, the Kremlin fell back on old habits: It lied, both about the number of dead and about the radiation.

Contradictory information out of Moscow and local authorities sparked public fears of a government cover-up of a more serious nuclear accident. Pharmacies in the cities of Arkhangelsk and Severodvinsk reported a run on iodine tablets as costumers bought up supplies believed to reduce the thyroid gland's intake of radioactive iodine.

By Monday, American intelligence officials seemed to confirm skeptics' fears when their reports suggested the explosion could have involved a nuclear-propelled cruise missile.

Still, five days after the mysterious accident, the Kremlin has yet to be forthcoming. It raises the question: Has Russia learned anything about transparency since Chernobyl?

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - New blasts tore through a Siberian ammunition dump on Friday during a clean-up operation, four days after it was destroyed by explosions that forced thousands of people to evacuate nearby areas.

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The past few weeks have been rough for the Russian military, as a string of serious accidents have led to dozens of deaths and injuries.

Accidents are certainly not uncommon for the Russian military, which lost its only aircraft carrier last fall when a heavy crane punched a hole in it as the only dry dock suitable for carrying out repairs and maintenance on a ship that size sank due to a power failure, but the last few weeks have certainly been a challenge.

Over the past month and a half, the Russian military has seen a fire claim the lives of sailors aboard a secret nuclear submarine, an explosion at a ammunition depot, and, as of Thursday morning, an explosion during the testing of a rocket engine at a military test facility.

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The "silent" 2B25 Gull 82mm mortar system (Burevestnik Institute/Jane's 360)

Cue the "silent but deadly" jokes: the Russian military has finally managed to get its hands on a new 'silenced' mortar system to help soldiers remain undetected while providing indirect fire support downrange.

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Russian air force Su-30MKI fighter jet takes off during the MAKS-2015 International Aviation and Space Show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, Russia. (Associated Press/Pavel Golovkin)

The Russian defense ministry is reportedly seeking the approval of new rules that would give the military permission to shoot down passenger planes deemed dangerous in emergency situations.

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