Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday he would not hesitate to order the use of Russian tactical nuclear weapons, to be deployed in Belarus, if his country faces aggression.
Earlier this year, Vladimir Putin announced the planned deployment of short-range nuclear weapons in Moscow’s neighbor and ally Belarus, in a move widely seen as a warning to the West as it stepped up military support for Ukraine.
The Russian president has stressed that Russia will maintain control over them, but Lukashenko’s statement contradicted him.
“God forbid I have to make the decision to use those weapons today, but I wouldn’t hesitate if we were faced with aggression,” Lukashenko, known for his stormy remarks, was quoted as saying by the state news agency BelTA.
Russian officials had no immediate comment on Lukashenko’s comments.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (pictured left on Friday with Vladimir Putin) said Tuesday he would not hesitate to order the use of Russian tactical nuclear weapons, to be deployed in Belarus, if his country faces aggression.
Lukashenko stressed that it was he who asked Putin to deploy Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus, and not the other way around.
He argued that the measure was necessary to deter possible aggression.
“I think that no one would be willing to fight against a country that has such weapons,” Lukashenko said. Those are weapons of deterrence.
Putin said during Friday’s meeting with Lukashenko that work on the construction of nuclear weapons facilities will be completed on July 7 and 8 and will move to Belarusian territory soon after.
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 (from a fraction of a kiloton to around 50 kilotons) than nuclear warheads mounted on ICBMs that are capable of destroying entire cities.
By comparison, strategic nuclear weapons can have a yield of 100 kilotons to over a megaton, with much larger warheads available.
There are 1,000 kilotons in a single megaton.
Earlier this year, Vladimir Putin announced the planned deployment of short-range nuclear weapons in Moscow’s neighbor and ally Belarus, in a move widely seen as a warning to the West as it stepped up military support for Ukraine. Pictured: Russian Yars ICBM systems drive down a street before a military parade in Moscow on May 9.
Until now, only the United States had used nuclear weapons in anger: in the 1945 attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
‘Fat Man’, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, had an explosion of 21 kilotons. The explosion killed an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 people.
The most powerful nuclear bomb ever created and tested was the Russian Tsar Bomba, which demonstrated an explosive yield of between 50 and 58 megatons.
Lukashenko said that Belarus does not need Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons to be deployed on its territory. ‘Am I going to fight the United States? No,’ he said.
However, the Belarusian leader added that Belarus was also preparing facilities for intercontinental missiles with nuclear warheads, just in case.
Along with Ukraine and Kazakhstan, Belarus was home to a significant part of the Soviet nuclear arsenals when they were all part of the Soviet Union.
Those weapons were withdrawn to Russia after the 1991 Soviet collapse under a US-sponsored deal.
Lukashenko stressed that it was he who asked Putin to deploy Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus, and not the other way around. Pictured: The couple is seen meeting in Sochi, Russia, on June 9.
Russia did not say how many of its tactical nuclear weapons would be sent to Belarus.
The US government believes that Russia has around 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons, including bombs that can be transported by aircraft, warheads for short-range missiles and artillery shells.
Russia used the territory of Belarus to send its troops to Ukraine on February 24, 2022 and has maintained forces and weapons on the territory of its ally.
Lukashenko, who has been in power for 29 years, has relied on Russia’s political and economic support to survive months of protests, mass arrests and Western sanctions following a 2020 election that kept him in power but ultimately country and abroad were considered rigged. .
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