Leader of Belarus says he wouldn’t hesitate to use Russian nuclear weapons to repel aggression

by Ethan Kim
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Russian Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Belarus

Belarusian President, Alexander Lukashenko, asserted on Tuesday that his country has already received a portion of Russia’s tactical nuclear weaponry, and expressed his readiness to use them in response to any perceived aggression. His remarks sharply contrast those made earlier by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who stated that the weapons’ deployment to Belarus was slated for the following month, and would be exclusively controlled by Moscow.

This year, Putin revealed plans to station short-range nuclear weapons in Belarus, Russia’s neighboring ally. This move, regarded by many as a message to the West, came as Western countries increased their military support for Ukraine.

Putin, during a meeting with Lukashenko, mentioned that the infrastructure for the weapons would be ready by the 7th or 8th of July and they would be transported to Belarus shortly after.

Lukashenko announced that all preparations for the deployment of the Russian nuclear arsenal were in place and stated, “it could take just a few days for us to get what we had asked for and even a bit more.” When asked by a Russian state TV host if Belarus already possessed some of the weapons, Lukashenko vaguely answered, “Not all of them, little by little.”

Lukashenko confirmed the acquisition of missiles and bombs from Russia and claimed that these Russian nuclear weapons destined for Belarus are thrice as powerful as the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the U.S. in 1945.

While Lukashenko, known for his outspoken statements, expressed no qualms about using these weapons in response to aggression, he later clarified that he would consult with Putin before any deployment.

Lukashenko underscored his request for Putin to station Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus, arguing it as a necessary deterrence against potential aggression. “I believe no one would be willing to fight a country that has those weapons. Those are weapons of deterrence,” he said.

Tactical nuclear weapons are designed to obliterate enemy troops and weapons on the battlefield. They are short-ranged and possess a significantly lower yield than nuclear warheads attached to intercontinental ballistic missiles, which can devastate entire cities.

While asserting that Belarus did not need Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons on its soil, Lukashenko did mention that preparations were underway for intercontinental nuclear-tipped missile facilities, as a precautionary measure.

Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan were hosts to a considerable portion of the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal. After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, these weapons were transferred back to Russia under a U.S.-sponsored deal.

Russia did not disclose the number of tactical nuclear weapons to be dispatched to Belarus. However, the U.S. government estimates that Russia has approximately 2,000 such weapons, which range from aircraft-carried bombs to warheads for short-range missiles and artillery rounds.

Belarus, an ally of Russia, was used as a conduit for Russian troops to enter Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and since then, has maintained the presence of Russian forces and weapons. Lukashenko stated on Tuesday that Belarus was planning to increase the production of unguided rockets for multiple rocket launchers.

Lukashenko, who has been in power for 29 years, has leaned on Russia for political and economic support, helping him weather months of protests, mass arrests, and Western sanctions following a 2020 election that was broadly regarded as manipulated and kept him in power.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Russian Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Belarus

What did Belarusian President, Alexander Lukashenko, recently announce about nuclear weapons in his country?

Lukashenko stated that Belarus had already received some of Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons and wouldn’t hesitate to use them if faced with aggression.

Did the Russian President Vladimir Putin confirm the transfer of nuclear weapons to Belarus?

Putin did not confirm the immediate transfer of weapons, but he stated earlier that the nuclear weapons would be deployed to Belarus in the following month and would remain under Moscow’s exclusive control.

What are tactical nuclear weapons?

Tactical nuclear weapons are designed to destroy enemy troops and weapons on the battlefield. They have a shorter range and a much lower yield than nuclear warheads attached to intercontinental ballistic missiles.

What was the purpose behind deploying Russian nuclear weapons to Belarus, according to Lukashenko?

Lukashenko argued that deploying Russian nuclear weapons to Belarus was a necessary measure to deter potential aggression.

How did Belarus factor into Russia’s military action in Ukraine?

Belarus was used as a passageway for Russian troops to enter Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and since then has kept the presence of Russian forces and weapons.

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