MOSCOW — Russia has the right to deploy nuclear arms in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine last year, a Foreign Ministry official reportedly said on Wednesday.
Mikhail Ulyanov, the head of the ministry's department on arms control, added that he knew of no plans to do so.
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"I don't know if there are nuclear weapons there now," Ulyanov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency. " I don't know about any plans, but in principle Russia can do it."
On Tuesday, NATO's Black Sea members Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey joined four other alliance states in a multinational naval exercise just across the water from the Crimean Peninsula.
NATO has held a series of exercises in eastern Europe since Moscow's move into the region to reassure members jittery about Russian intentions in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
Relations between Russia and the West are their most strained since the Cold War. Ukraine and the West accuse Moscow of directing a separatist assault in eastern Ukraine with its own troops and weapons. Russia denies those accusations.