Russia signs deal to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko at the Kremlin prior to the Victory Day military parade in central Moscow on May 9, 2023. Russia celebrates the 78th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany during World War II. (Photo by Vladimir Smirnov / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by VLADIMIR SMIRNOV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin greets Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko at the Kremlin prior to the Victory Day military parade in central Moscow on May 9 (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Belarus has agreed to allow Russia to deploy tactical nuclear missiles on its territory.

The move formalises a deal struck earlier this year by Vladimir Putin and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Since invading Ukraine last year, Putin has repeatedly warned Russia would be ready to use nuclear weapons if needed to defend its ‘territorial integrity’.

When the agreement was first announced back in March, Ukraine said Belarus had been ‘taken hostage’ by the Kremlin.

Speaking in Minsk, Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu said: ‘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.’

He said Moscow will retain control over the weapons and any decisions on their use.

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

A Russian Iskander mobile short-range ballistic missile system drives in the downtown area of Moscow (Picture: EPA)

Image grab from footage released by the Russian Defence Ministry showings a cruise missile of the Iskander tactical missile system (Picture: EyePress News/Rex/Shutterstock)

A Russian Su-25UB attack airplane (Picture: Getty Images/Stocktrek Images)

‘Belarusian servicemen have received the necessary training in Russian training centres,’ Shoigu added.

No detail was announced regarding when the weapons would be deployed in Belarus, but Putin previously said that the construction of storage facilities would be completed by July 1.

Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya condemned the move.

‘We must do everything to prevent Putin’s plan to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus, as this will ensure Russia’s control over Belarus for years to come,’ Tsikhanouskaya said.

‘This will further jeopardize the security of Ukraine and all of Europe.’

Independent Belarusian military analyst Aliaksandr Alesin said about two-thirds of Russia’s arsenal of medium-range nuclear-tipped missiles were held in Belarus during the Cold War, adding that there are dozens of Soviet-era storage facilities that could still be used to store such weapons.

Soviet nuclear weapons stationed in Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan were moved to Russia in a US-brokered deal after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

‘Documents in Minsk on the return of nuclear weapons were defiantly signed just at the moment when Ukraine declared a counteroffensive and Western countries are handing over weapons to Kyiv,’ Alesin said.

‘This Belarusian nuclear balcony should spoil the mood for politicians in the West, since nuclear missiles are capable of covering Ukraine, all of Poland, the Baltic States, and parts of Germany.’

Russia and Belarus have an alliance agreement under which the Kremlin subsidises the Belarusian economy, via loans and discounted Russian oil and gas.

Moscow used Belarusian territory as a staging ground for invading neighbouring Ukraine and has …read more

Source:: Metro


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