Russia plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus: Putin
26 March, 2023 | Pragati Singh
Belarus' government, which is located west of Russia on Ukraine's long northern border, is one of Moscow's closest allies
Russia plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the Financial Times, this is Moscow’s latest attempt to use the threat of nuclear war to escalate tensions with the US and NATO over the invasion of Ukraine.
Putin stated that work on tactical nuclear weapon storage units in Belarus would be completed on July 1, a move he compared to US nuclear deployments in Europe. The Russian leader stated that Moscow has already transferred to Belarus an Iskander short-range missile system capable of carrying nuclear or conventional warheads.
Despite Putin’s assurances that Russia would not hand over control of the tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus or violate its nuclear non-proliferation obligations, the decision is one of the Kremlin’s most significant moves with its arsenal since it invaded Ukraine more than a year ago, according to the Financial Times.
The Russian President stated that the deployment was in response to a long-standing request from Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko, who has allowed Russia to use Belarus as a launch pad for attacks on Ukraine, bringing his country even closer to the Kremlin.
“There is nothing unusual here: first of all, the US has been doing this for decades,” Putin said. “They placed their tactical nuclear weapons in six different allied Nato countries in Europe. [ . . . ] we have agreed to do the same thing, without, I stress, violating our international non-proliferation obligations,” Putin said.
“They have [tactical nuclear weapons] in certain countries, prepare the delivery systems, and train the crews. We’re planning to do the same thing,” he added, as quoted by Financial Times.
According to the Kremlin, Putin accused the “West” of fueling the Ukraine crisis and said that the “West” is betting on the fates of entire states and peoples. Putin stated in an article for the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, People’s Daily, that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is attempting to expand its global reach and penetrate the Asia-Pacific region.
“The crisis in Ukraine, which was provoked and is being diligently fuelled by the West, is the most striking, yet not the only, manifestation of its desire to retain its international dominance and preserve the unipolar world order. It is crystal clear that NATO is striving for a global reach of activities and seeking to penetrate the Asia-Pacific,” Putin said.
“It is obvious that there are forces persistently working to split the common Eurasian space into a network of ‘exclusive clubs’ and military blocs that would serve to contain our countries’ development and harm their interests. This won’t work,” he added.
Belarus’ government, which is located west of Russia on Ukraine’s long northern border, is one of Moscow’s closest allies. Since the early 1990s, Belarus has had no nuclear weapons on its territory. It agreed to transfer all Soviet-era weapons of mass destruction stationed there to Russia shortly after gaining independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Belarus aided Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, allowing the Kremlin’s troops to enter from the north. Throughout the conflict, there have been fears that Belarus will be used as a launch pad for another offensive, or that Minsk’s own troops will join the conflict, according to CNN.