Putin signs deal to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News May 26, 2023

Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a deal to formalize the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear missiles to Belarusian territory.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko /: Pavel Bednyakov / RIA Novosti

“In the context of an extremely sharp escalation of threats on the western borders of Russia and Belarus, a decision was made to take countermeasures in the military-nuclear sphere,” Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency quoted Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying.

The Kremlin will retain control over the weapons and any decisions on their use, Shoigu said.

TASS quoted Shoigu as saying that Iskander-M missiles, which can carry conventional or nuclear warheads, had been shipped to the Belarusian armed forces, and some Su-25 aircraft had been converted for the possible use of nuclear weapons.

“Belarusian servicemen have received the necessary training in Russian training centers,” Shoigu was quoted as saying, adding that the agreements signed with his Belarusian counterpart covered the procedure for establishing a “special storage facility for nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory.”

Tactical nuclear weapons refer to lower-yield weapons designed for battlefield use, as opposed to strategic ones capable of wiping out entire cities. Russia has not disclosed how many tactical nuclear weapons it has.

Putin has warned repeatedly that Russia is prepared to use nuclear weapons if needed to defend its “territorial integrity.”

“It’s political signalling … The Russian government at the highest levels will issue statements warning on the risk of nuclear war if NATO does give Patriots to Ukraine, give F-16s to Ukraine,” Richard Weitz, a Washington, D.C.-based foreign policy and defense analyst, told Al Jazeera. “It’s a way of just reminding the West that Russia is this great nuclear power and that the West better be careful, or we could stumble into a nuclear war.”

Ukraine has said Russia’s ally Belarus had been “taken hostage” by Moscow.

Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine’s national security and defense council, called the deal “a step towards internal destabilization” of Belarus, and said it maximized what he termed the level of “negative perception and public rejection” of Russia and Putin in Belarusian society. “The Kremlin took Belarus as a nuclear hostage,” he wrote on Twitter.

Membership . . . . Intelligence . . . . Publish