The Russian TASS and Belarusian Belta news agencies reported that the Belarusian Defense Minister, Viktor Khrenin met with Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, in Minsk on Thursday, May 25. The two ministers signed what has been termed “nuclear sharing” documents that delineate the procedures for deploying, storing and controlling Russian tactical nuclear weapons that the Kremlin plans to bring to Belarusian territory.

The two heads of their respective defense ministries discussed a number of issues relating to military, political, and technical cooperation between their defense forces.

It was also reported that they signed documents that laid out in detail the procedures for the storage of Russian, non-strategic, nuclear weapons in a specially prepared storage facility on the territory of Belarus.

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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko made an initial request for Russia to deploy nuclear weapons to Belarus in late 2021, months before the invasion of Ukraine, but Moscow demurred.

To do so would not only have contradicted Russia’s policy to retain control of nuclear weapons within its national territory but would have legitimized the storage of US nuclear weapons in Europe, against which Russia has long protested.

Russia’s position abruptly changed following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine and its failed plan to quickly win the war. In June 2022, during a summit meeting with Lukashenko in Moscow, Putin announced that Russia was helping Belarus to convert its Su-25 aircraft to carry nuclear weapons, train its crews, and would transfer nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Belarus.

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The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has yet to comment on this information.

Some doubt arose on the actual intention to deploy the weapons when the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, claimed in December that there was no intention to transfer nuclear weapons to Belarus. It suggested that Russia was, at that time, limiting itself to preparing the infrastructure for the nuclear weapons but the actual transfer would be decided upon later.

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This seemed to be confirmed when the Belarusian Permanent Representative to the UN, Valentin Rybakov, at the end of March, talked about the “possible – I emphasize, possible – deployment” of Russian nuclear weapons to Belarus.

Around the same time, Putin said that any nuclear weapons deployed in Belarus would be fully controlled by Russia with Belarusian armed forces providing the delivery means. This sort of nuclear sharing arrangement fully matched NATO’s position in relation to US tactical weapons. 

Today’s activity puts that concept one step closer to realization.

Although neither Russia nor Belarus has confirmed where the weapons will be stored, the Federation of American Scientists used geolocation of a Belarusian TV news report to confirm the base for the modified Su-25s was at the Lida air base, in western Belarus, which is also close to a former Soviet nuclear weapons storage facility.

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Comments ( 1)

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MJ
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

Belarus has just ensured their destruction if Poot'en launches any nuclear weapons, the Belarus sheep population better replace the delusional leadership or start building underground fallout bunkers. Just can't fix stupid!

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