Putin promises to nuclear-arm Belarus
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin says he will send Belarus nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles.
“In the coming months, we will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” Putin told Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko during a meeting in St Petersburg.
Ukraine simultaneously reported a “massive bombardment” of missile strikes from Belarus, which has not officially joined the conflict.
Lukashenko in May said Belarus had bought Russian Iskander nuclear-capable missiles and S-400 anti-aircraft anti-missile systems.
The Iskander-M, a mobile guided missile system called SS-26 Stone in Nato, replaced the Soviet-era Scud missile. Its twin guided missiles have a 500km range and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.
Belarus said it was concerned about the “aggressive”, “confrontational” and “repulsive” actions of its neighbours Lithuania and Poland and asked for more weapons.
Lukashenko asked Russia to boost Belarusian protection from alleged nuclear-armed Nato flights near its borders.
“Minsk must be ready for anything, even the use of serious weaponry to defend our fatherland from Brest to Vladivostok,” Lukashenko said, referring to Belarus and Russia as a single entity.
Putin has repeatedly referred to nuclear weapons since the February 24 invasion. The nuclear references are seen in the west as a warning not to intervene while the comments have reportedly angered the Chinese leadership, which is largely supportive of Putin.
Before Lukashenko faced large protests in the wake of the internationally condemned 2020 presidential election, he always underlined his determination to establish Belarusian independence from Russia. But his pariah status that followed the heavy crackdown on the opposition in Belarus has forced him into increased dependence on Putin.
This was underlined when Belarusian territory was used as a key front in the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Putin also offered to upgrade the Belarusian air force so its aircraft can carry nuclear weapons.
“Many Su-25 [planes] are in service with the Belarusian military. They could be upgraded in an appropriate way,” Putin said. “This modernisation should be carried out in aircraft factories in Russia and the training of personnel should start in accordance with this. We will agree on how to accomplish this.”
Russian nuclear missiles have been promised to Belarus. Picture credit: C4 Wallpaperflare