The Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, visiting Belarus to sign several documents on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the territory of his ally, justified this Thursday the step taken by Moscow in the "threats" on its western borders.
As reported by the military department of Belarus, Shoigu and the Belarusian Defense Minister, Viktor Khrenin, signed several documents on the procedure for the maintenance of Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons in a special depot on Belarusian territory.
The decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus "was taken to apply countermeasures in the military-nuclear sphere against the background of an extremely strong escalation of threats on the western borders of Russia and Belarus," the Russian minister was quoted as saying by the agency. Tass.
A similar opinion was shown by his Belarusian colleague. "It is an effective response to the aggressive policy of countries hostile to us," he said.
The former Soviet republic of Belarus borders three EU countries, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, which are also part of NATO.
It also has a border with Ukraine. In February 2022, when Putin launched what he called a "special military operation" against Ukraine, Russian troops used the territory of Belarus to break into Ukraine and try to reach key areas of the country, such as the capital Kyiv.
Despite having helped Moscow in this way, Lukashenko insists that Belarus will not enter the conflict on Putin's side, unless there is a raid or attack on Belarus.
When talking about "tactical" nuclear weapons, we are referring to those that can be used for specific gains on the battlefield, not those that have the ability to destroy cities.
Shoigu assured that, although this type of weapon is stationed in the territory of its main ally, Russia will continue to be responsible and will maintain control and decision-making over its use.
This deployment was announced at the end of March by the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. The nuclear weapons depot will be ready by July 1.
The Russian Ministry of Defense then explained this deployment by the refusal of the United States to withdraw nuclear weapons from European territory and the threat that, according to Moscow, the proximity of NATO poses to Russia.
In addition to the aforementioned nuclear weapons depot, Russia has provided the Belarusian army with an Iskander-M missile system, which can use nuclear ammunition, and the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system. In addition, it has re-equipped Belarusian Su-25 fighter jets to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, there were nuclear weapons in four of the 15 new countries that were formed: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. A year later, its four governments agreed that the weapons would stay in Russia.
Belarus joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1993 as a non-nuclear state. Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan finished transferring their arsenals in 1996.
In August 2022, Minsk confirmed its nuclear-weapon-free status at the United Nations.