In a televised meeting on June 25 between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg, Putin said Russia would supply Belarus with Iskander-M systems and reequip Belarusian Su-25 aircraft for nuclear bombing.
During the meeting, Lukashenka said, “We are very concerned about the training flights of US and NATO aircraft, which are training to carry nuclear warheads. It makes us very stressed. Therefore, I ask you to consider the question of a mirror answer to these things. No overkill. They are training to carry nuclear warheads. You, please, help us at least to adapt our planes, which we have, which can carry nuclear charges.”
In response, Putin promised to reequip the Belarusian group of Su-25 aircraft accordingly. He added, “Over the next few months, we will transfer to Belarus the Iskander-M missile-tactical systems, which, as you know, can use both ballistic and cruise missiles, both in conventional and nuclear versions.”
Iskander-M is a mobile guided tactical missile system with a range of up to 500 kilometres. Missiles can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.
Earlier, Lukashenko had announced his intention to purchase S-400 and Iskander systems from the Russian Federation. He called the latter good weapons, “which covers the entire territory of Poland up to the Baltic, not to mention the Baltic states.”
“And practically Ukraine for Kyiv. God forbid, I’m not hinting at anything, but so that they understand the firing range of the weapons that we have,” Lukashenka said.
Belarus did not just acknowledge its faith in the Russian weapons; it also signalled to the West that Russia and Belarus were now acting together; they could organize a blockade of Lithuania and occupy the Suwalki corridor – a strip of land between Lithuania and Belarus about 100 kilometres long, which could connect the territory of Belarus with the Kaliningrad region of Russia.
Lithuania has a mere 104 km border with Poland, and if Suwalki Corridor is established, the country will have to rely on a sea route to access Europe.
In calmer times, NATO could overlook such a threat. But times are not calm: Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched military operations in Ukraine, and there are about 30,000 Russian soldiers in Belarus as Kyiv is closer to Belarus than Russia.
The West cannot dismiss Alexander Lukashenko as a paranoid dictator. If necessary, he told the Belta news agency of Belarus, “we will use not only nuclear weapons but also ‘super-nuclear’ and promising weapons to protect our territory.”
Belarus is ruled with an iron fist by Alexander Lukashenko for almost 30 years. Belarus currently serves as a retreat and logistical base for the Russian special operations in Ukraine. The country has been slapped with sanctions which are as severe as the ones on Russia.
On November 30, 2021, Lukashenko said he would offer Russia to place nuclear weapons on its territory if American nuclear warheads appeared in Poland. He was reacting to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg about the possibility of deploying US nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe.
On November 19, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that if Germany spurns to keep nuclear weapons in its territory, they may end up “in other European countries, in particular to the east of Germany.”
In March, the United States warned Moscow and Minsk about the danger associated with the possible deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus. The warning was issued at Thursday’s UN Disarmament Conference.
“Any transfer of Russian nuclear weapons to Belarus would be dangerously provocative and would lead to even more destabilization in the region. We call on Belarus to abandon Russia’s policy of nuclear threat and intimidation,” said US Representative Aude-Frances McKernan.
A referendum held in Belarus on February 27 marked the country’s abandonment of its former nuclear-free status. Thanks to the adoption of a new constitution, nuclear weapons could appear on Belarusian territory for the first time since the country abandoned them after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The last nuclear weapon was removed from Belarus to Russia in 1996.
If you believe NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, then in the future, NATO will be present along the entire “line of contact” with Russia, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Romania and Poland have borders directly with Ukraine. Both countries have risen to become the most important NATO hubs in Eastern Europe within a very short time.
As a result, both the countries could become military targets, and this is especially true for Poland. The Belarusian-Polish border would effectively become a direct Western nuclear “contact line” with the Russian-Belarusian bloc. A situation that surpasses the threat level of the Cold War.