In a significant geopolitical development, Russia took a momentous stride forward on Thursday by unveiling its blueprint to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. Notably, this move represents the Kremlin’s maiden deployment of such warheads beyond the confines of Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
President Vladimir Putin, articulating his views on the matter, contends that the United States and its allies are currently embroiled in an escalating proxy war against Russia. This assertion finds its roots in the Kremlin chief’s decision to dispatch troops into Ukraine in February of the preceding year.
The revelation regarding the nuclear deployment blueprint emerged through an interview conducted by Vladimir Putin on March 25, wherein he divulged this strategic maneuver to state television.
We're now on WhatsApp. Click here to join.
Sergei Shoigu, the esteemed defense minister under President Putin, echoed this sentiment by expressing that the collective Western powers were, in essence, orchestrating an undeclared combat campaign against our respective nations. This assertion was made during a meeting between Shoigu and his Belarusian counterpart in Minsk, as confirmed by Russia’s defense ministry.
Furthermore, Shoigu asserted that the Western powers were exerting all conceivable efforts to protract and intensify the armed conflict in Ukraine, lending credibility to President Putin’s claim of an aggressive Western front.
President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus added fuel to the fire by affirming that tactical nuclear weapons were already in motion subsequent to Vladimir Putin’s alleged signing of an order. However, it is important to note that no official confirmation was issued by the Kremlin with regard to this matter.
Addressing reporters, President Lukashenko revealed that the mobilization of nuclear armaments had already commenced. When pressed on the question of whether the weapons had reached Belarus, he cryptically responded, “Possibly. When I return, I will ascertain the veracity.”
Shoigu elaborated that the documents he signed in Minsk pertained to the protocols for storing tactical nuclear weapons within a dedicated facility in Belarus.
President Putin has consistently issued warnings that Russia, as the possessor of the most substantial nuclear arsenal worldwide, will employ all means at its disposal to safeguard its sovereignty. He has framed the conflict in Ukraine as a battle for the survival of Russia against an antagonistic Western bloc.
In contrast, the United States and its allies maintain their objective as assisting Ukraine in achieving victory over Russian forces, explicitly refuting any intent to dismantle Russia. Additionally, they deny any correlation between the Ukrainian conflict and the expansion of NATO following the Soviet Union’s dissolution.
The precise timeline for the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus remains elusive. Notably, Belarus shares borders with three NATO member states—Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. Russia, however, will retain control over the aforementioned armaments.
Tactical nuclear weapons, distinct from their strategic counterparts designed to decimate major cities in the United States or Russia, are utilized for specific battlefield gains. Accordingly, their yield is generally smaller in magnitude.
Russia currently possesses a formidable numerical advantage over the United States and the NATO military alliance concerning tactical nuclear weapons. It is estimated that Russia has approximately 2,000 operational tactical warheads, whereas the United States possesses around 200 of such armaments, with half of them stationed across European bases. These B61 nuclear bombs, measuring 12 feet in length, boast diverse yields ranging from 0.3 to 170 kilotons, and are deployed across six air bases in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Shoigu disclosed that the Belarusian armed forces had acquired Iskander-M missiles, capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads, and that certain Su-25 aircraft had been modified to potentially accommodate nuclear weapons. Belarusian servicemen received requisite training to navigate these weapons, according to Shoigu’s statement cited by the defense ministry.