In a major development, Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Friday, announced the timeline for the deployment of “tactical” nuclear weapons in one of its closest allies- Belarus. The latest development came after the Russian President held a closed-door meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi– a city on the Black Sea.
Notably, “tactical nuclear” weapons are intended to destroy enemy troops and weapons on the battlefield. They have a relatively short range and a much lower yield than nuclear warheads fitted to long-range strategic missiles that are capable of obliterating whole cities.
Putin finalised July for deployement
According to the Russian media outlet, RT News, the nuke weapons will be deployed as soon as the adaptation work at the relevant storage facilities is completed– which is possibly by or around the first week of July.
“Everything is going according to plan. On July 7-8, the preparation of the relevant facilities will be completed and we will immediately begin measures related to the deployment of the relevant types of weapons on your territory,” Putin told his Belarusian counterpart.
Not violating any international laws: Putin
Notably, in March this year, President Putin announced the stationing of its nuclear weapons in Minsk– despite West and European Union stringent warnings. While announcing its dangerous move, he argued that Moscow will be doing what the United States has done for decades by putting its nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.
The President alleged the Russian move doesn’t violate an international treaty banning the proliferation of nuclear weapons, even though Moscow has argued before that Washington has breached the pact by deploying them on the territory of its NATO allies.
During the announcement, he also mentioned that Moscow helped upgrade 10 Belarusian aircraft to allow them to carry nuclear weapons and their crews would start training to use them from April 3. He noted Russia also has given Belarus the Iskander short-range missile systems that can be fitted with conventional or nuclear warheads. However, since then, no details were emerged over whether Putin had deployed any nuked weapons or not.
What does deployment mean to ongoing war?
According to AP, the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, which shares a 1,084-kilometer border with Ukraine, would allow Russian aircraft and missiles to reach potential targets there more easily and quickly if Moscow decides to use them. It would also extend Russia’s capability to target several NATO members in Eastern and Central Europe.