Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 27 March 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Putin Plans to Deploy Nuclear Weapons to Belarus: Political Move Not Military One
Russia will station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, President Vladimir Putin said. Not surprisingly, Moscow has long been bracing for that move. Furthermore, it is unlikely to change the military situation as Russia has already deployed nuclear weapons to its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad. Putin’s remarks in the interview come as a political move amid its war against Ukraine and close ties to Belarus.
Russia will “complete construction of a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus on July 1,” Putin said. Though the Russian president said Russia would not transfer control of the tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus. He likened his plans to the U.S. stationing its weapons in Europe. Putin decided to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus after Britain had confirmed it was supplying Ukraine with ammunition which contained depleted uranium. Those rounds are not considered as having nuclear capability, also according to Russia. The construction of the storage facility had begun before Western countries confirmed they would provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium. Putin is attempting to exploit Western fears of nuclear escalation by deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus. Bringing nuclear weapons to Belarus will change nothing as Russia has weapons whose range is longer than those deployed to its smaller neighbor’s territory. In addition, the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad has long been home to nuclear-tipped short-range missiles. According to Putin, all that was at Lukashenko’s request. Lukashenko offered to host Russia’s nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory in November 2021, and Belarus removed the constitutional clause enshrining Belarus’ neutral status in a referendum in February 2022. Russia has stationed 10 aircraft in Belarus capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons, Putin said, and equipped them appropriately. Back in August 2022, Lukashenko said his country’s Su-24 military planes had been re-fitted to enable them to carry nuclear weapons. Moscow had already transferred an Iskander short-range missile system, a device which can be fitted with nuclear or conventional warheads, to Belarus. Bu stationing nuclear weapons in Belarus, in addition to intimidating Western states, Russia seeks to consolidate its grip on the Lukashenko regime.
If content prepared by Warsaw Institute team is useful for you, please support our actions. Donations from private persons are necessary for the continuation of our mission.
All texts published by the Warsaw Institute Foundation may be disseminated on the condition that their origin is credited. Images may not be used without permission.