One month after suspending his participation in the latest bilateral agreement with Washington for the control of Nuevo Start nuclear weapons, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced this Saturday that his country will have this type of weapon of mass destruction in Belarus and that its deployment is already in an advanced state.
"There is nothing unusual in this," said the president, who has justified a decision prepared by Minsk and Moscow already before the invasion of Ukraine with the US deployment of this type of weapon in several NATO allied countries that do not border with your country.
“We have already helped our Belarusian colleagues to re-equip their aircraft.
10 aircraft are ready to use these types of weapons," Putin asserted late Saturday night on the Rossiya 24 channel. "We have also delivered to Belarus our well-known and very effective Iskander missile system, which can also be a carrier [ of nuclear warheads]”, added the Russian leader.
The cherry on top of his speech has been the announcement of a special tactical nuclear weapons facility to be completed on July 1.
Belarus borders three NATO countries: Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, and the hottest spot in Europe, Ukraine, a country against which the Minsk regime has offered its territory as an attack platform.
This nuclear escalation triggers tension, especially with Poland, one of the countries that has led the supply of military aid to Ukraine and that has been the target of Lukashenko's furious attacks to justify sending Russian troops to its territory.
Putin has emphasized that this dangerous movement of pieces only contemplates tactical nuclear weapons, whose destructive power, being enormous, is more limited.
Tactical weapons are less powerful and powerful than strategic weapons, capable of crossing oceans and destroying entire cities.
The tactics generally have a power of between one and 50 kilotons, although the United States, and it is reasonable to think that Russia as well, have devices of around 0.3 kilotons (300 tons of TNT), capable of causing an explosion comparable to the one that occurred in the port of Beirut (Lebanon) in August 2020.
, the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945, had a power of 15 kilotons.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia has around 2,000 of these weapons compared to about 200 in the United States, half in Europe, and that after the Cold War it began to dismantle them, considering them obsolete and a risk.
“What begins with a tactical nuclear attack or a tit-for-tat nuclear exchange between two countries can escalate to an all-out nuclear war, ending with the immediate and complete destruction of both nations,” warns François Diaz-Maurin, an expert at the Bulletin. of Atomic Scientists, in his essay
Nowhere to Hide: How Nuclear War Can Kill You and Almost the Whole World
The Russian nuclear deployment was an increasingly clear step for some time.
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko paved the way when he held his constitutional pseudo-referendum on February 27, 2022, just three days after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
The amendments approved by Minsk included greater legal shielding of the president and the possibility of transferring nuclear weapons from his ally to his territory.
“Aleksandr Grigorievich Lukashenko has long raised the issue of the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus,” Putin has said, seizing on the recent announcement of British depleted uranium ammunition shipments to Ukraine to raise his nuclear threat.
This type of projectiles does not have a massive destructive power, but its materials have a high toxicity.
"Everything that the President of Belarus asked for, all the issues that he raised in this regard, are being implemented, and all our agreements will be carried out in the very near future," Putin added.
The armies of both countries carried out, five days before the invasion of Ukraine, on February 19 last year, joint military exercises in Belarus in which the Russian nuclear deterrent forces participated.
A few months earlier, the Kremlin had sent several strategic bombers to patrol its border with the European Union, with the excuse of the Middle East refugee crisis caused by Minsk since 2021.
The Russian leader has shielded his decision that Washington has nuclear weapons in Germany.
“The United States has been doing this for decades.
For a long time, it has placed its tactical nuclear weapons in its allied countries, the NATO nations, in Europe," Putin stressed in his speech on television before listing them: "The Federal Republic of Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Greece.
Well, Greece, no, but there is a storage facility," the Russian head of state qualified.
The Russian nuclear escalation worries Moscow's rivals and partners alike.
On the one hand, US President Joe Biden warned in October last year that the world was experiencing the most dangerous moment since 1962. “We haven't faced the prospect of the apocalypse like we do now since [the presidency of] Kennedy and the missile crisis in Cuba", said the US president shortly after Putin affirmed that he will defend "by all means" his conquests.
But the concern also reaches Beijing.
Putin warned that he would give "an appropriate response" to the shipment of depleted uranium ammunition during the joint press conference that the Russian president and Chinese president, Xi Jinping, offered after their summit in Moscow on Tuesday.
In that meeting, the leader of the Asian giant made Putin sign a declaration that advocated avoiding the race for weapons of mass destruction.
"All States possessing nuclear weapons must not deploy them outside their national territories and must withdraw all those deployed abroad", collected a document that, four days later, seems like a dead letter in the face of Putin's steps, and which added what today it seems like an unclear declaration of intent: "There can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed."
The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons announced by the Kremlin could not have been, for the time it takes such a decision, a consequence of the early shipment of depleted uranium ammunition this week.
However, Putin has indicated that he has another measure prepared: “I must say that Russia has something to answer for, of course.
We have, without exaggeration, hundreds of thousands, hundreds of thousands of those shells.
We have not used them yet", stressed the head of state.
On the other hand, the Kremlin is preparing for a long war.
"The Russian military-industrial complex is growing at a very fast rate, at a rate that many did not expect," Putin stressed, estimating that his country produces three times more munitions than NATO members.
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