Belarus’ Air Force can now carry out nuclear strikes thanks to Russia’s assistance, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has revealed. The Russian official noted that Moscow had also handed over a unit of nuclear-capable Iskander-M mobile short-range ballistic missiles to its ally.
Speaking during a meeting with Russian top brass on Tuesday, Shoigu said: “Part of the Belarusian attack air fleet have received the ability to conduct strikes on enemy targets with nuclear means of destruction.”
According to the minister, on Monday, Belarusian troops began getting acquainted with the Iskander-M missile system on one of Russia’s military training grounds as well.
Commenting on the move, Shoigu cited an uptick in NATO’s military activities along the borders of the Union State comprising Belarus and Russia.
Meanwhile, addressing Belarus’ parliament last Friday, the country’s president, Alexander Lukashenko, floated the possibility of Russian strategic nuclear weapons being deployed in the state, on top of the tactical ones.
“We will stop at nothing to protect our nations, our states, our people,” the official pointed out, adding that the move would likely serve as an effective deterrent against any hostile moves by the US and its allies.
In an interview with the Russia 24 TV channel in late March, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed that Moscow’s tactical nuclear weapons might arrive in Belarus as early as this summer amid Minsk’s repeated calls to deploy such weapons on its territory.
He noted that Russia would not hand over control of any of those tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus.
Explaining the need for the move, the Russian head of state cited the UK’s decision to provide Kiev with depleted uranium munitions earlier in March.
Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov pointed out last week that the US had long stationed its own tactical nuclear weapons in five non-nuclear weapon states – Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye. The diplomat therefore concluded that any criticisms of Russia’s decision by the US were hypocritical.
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