Belarus has obtained tactical nuclear missiles of the Iskander complex from Russia, according to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during a visit to an automobile plant in the Minsk region, reported by RIA Novosti.
“We received a lot of ammunition, missiles first of all,” Lukashenko added.
“I must thank the Russians: they helped us a lot last year. I'm not [just] talking about nuclear weapons here, which put everyone in their place… We have received such systems as Iskander from the Russians with their funding, although we pay them on other accounts,” the Belarusian leader said.
He emphasized that using these weapons requires “strict adherence to protocol” and approval from high-ranking officials.
“[This is] a particularly dangerous weapon... I signed a decree on how to use these weapons. It can be applied only with the consent of the President. The Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff are involved there. Everyone has their own functions… nuclear weapons are even more difficult to use,” Lukashenko said.
In March 2023, Lukashenko had previously described the tactical nuclear missiles provided by Vladimir Putin as “national” or “own assets”, emphasizing that they would contribute to self-government and freedom for Belarus.
“And don't say that ‘we will only keep it. It's not our weapon.’ These are our weapons that will contribute to sovereignty and independence,” Lukashenko said.
He also disclosed plans for the restoration of sites for missiles with nuclear warheads, asserting that Belarus could potentially receive strategic nuclear weapons if needed.
“We will stop at nothing, defending our countries, our peoples,” Lukashenko had said back in March 2023.
On Tuesday, Jan. 16, the Belarus defense minister, Viktor Khrenin, announced that Minsk is about to amend its military doctrine to permit the use of nuclear weapons; just months after Russian nukes were positioned there for the first time.
“We will clearly communicate our views on the use of tactical nuclear weapons stationed on our territory,” Khrenin said during Tuesday’s meeting of the Minsk security council. “A new chapter has appeared, where we will clearly define our allied obligations to our allies.”
The doctrine is to be presented for approval to the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly, a representative body that operates in parallel with its parliament.
Belarus is closely allied with Russia, and had held both tactical and long-range nuclear weapons when part of the Soviet Union as did Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
They gave up their nuclear weapons, along with the other two former Soviet republics, as part of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.
In May last year Moscow and Minsk finalized an agreement to allow Russia to position tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
In June President Putin said that deliveries had begun, then in December President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed that deliveries had been completed in October. This marked the first time that nuclear weapons had been placed outside of Russia’s borders.
The positioning of nuclear weapons in Belarus which borders Poland, Latvia and Lithuania and whose border is less than 200 kilometers from Ukraine’s capital has caused international concern.
The nuclear weapons Russia sent are tactical weapons intended for battlefield use and have relatively short ranges and comparatively low yields.
It is not clear how many weapons have been stationed in Belarus and it’s not immediately clear whether Minsk’s new doctrine will include the use of the Russian weapons.
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