Russian will deploy tactical nuclear weapons or TNW in Belarus as early as this summer, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed publicly on March 25.
Moscow is completing the construction of a specialized storage facility for such arms, amid repeated calls by Minsk to deploy them on its soil. The site in Belarus will be ready by July 1, Putin told Russia 24 TV. He did not specify when and how many TNW warheads would be transported to the new storage site.
The President also underscored that Moscow does not plan to hand over control of any its TNW to Minsk. It would only deploy its own TNW to Belarus under its own command and control.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly raised the issue of threats posed to his nation by nuclear weapons deployed by the US to EU countries. In October 2022, he pointed to “nuclear sharing agreements” existing between Washington and some NATO countries.
Putin announced that Russia has already modified ten Belarussian bombers to deliver TNW. The respective training of Belarussian pilots will start since April 3, 2023.
The move was prompted by the UK’s decision to provide Kiev with depleted uranium (DU) munitions, Putin explained. The UK announced earlier in March that it plans to send the shells to Ukraine for use with Challenger 2 battle tanks. Moscow blasted the move as a sign of “absolute recklessness, irresponsibility and impunity” on the part of London and Washington. NATO DU munitions can be also used by the U.S. Abrahams and German Leopard-2 MBTs to be deployed in Ukraine. Highly likely that the U.S and the UK DU shells have been already delivered to Ukraine.
It is really needed response of Russia to nuclear preparations made in NATO. It will be very strange if Moscow has not responded to such alarming activity.
In recent years the USA and NATO have increased reliance on their NW in Europe – both tactical and strategic.
There are nine key factors that cannot be ignored:
- Currently, more than 400 U.S. TNW guided air-dropped bombs are deployed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey since mid-1950s. Many European countries have purchased newly-developed interceptor-fighters F-35 to deliver the U.S. TNW. E.g., Finland that has not become a NATO member yet has ordered 64 F-35s from the USA. A new U.S. NW bomb B 61-12 with a maximum nuclear yield of 50 kt has been already brought to Europe
- Three NATO nuclear powers – France, the UK and the USA – are taking part in the NATO Air Force 365/366 days-long operation code-named “Baltic Air Policing” in the air space of Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Estonia. Four types of different DCA or dual-capable combat aircraft that can carry TNW are used in this operation day in, day out.
- Additionally European NATO allies offered 19 their military airfields for the U.S. heavy strategic bombers certified to carry TNW and SONA or strategic offensive nuclear arms.
- A number of the U.S. B-52H heavy strategic bombers have practiced drills to attack targets in the Baltic Sea area with dummy NW missiles and bombs, including in Lithuania, near Kaliningrad Region. Recently, two U.S. B-52H bombers have been directly moved to St. Petersburgh have been intercepted by Russian Air Force
- According to the CND (campaign for nuclear disarmament), some U.S. bombs have been returned to Lakenheath military base, Suffolk, the UK.
- In December 2021, Russia called on all U.S. TNW weapons to be repatriated to the CONUS (continental USA) as part of its security proposals to the West, but the USA and NATO refused to respond positively.
- The USA and NATO declined Moscow’s proposal to pronounce a moratorium on non-deployment of the INF-related nuclear-tipped medium-range missiles in the areas where they have not been stored, covering inter alia the same missiles produced in the USA and to be deployed in Europe and Asia-Pacific.
- The U.S. missile defense operations site with universal Mk-41 launching system that already was commissioned in Romania, and soon will become active in Poland can house cruise missiles with nuclear warheads.
- The USA is still committed to its first nuclear strike against Russia and the PRC.
In relation to Russia and Belarus all such U.S. and NATO nuclear weapons are forward-based weapons, and they can be used promptly. These NW constitute a real, undisputable, formidable and direct threat to Russia and Belarus. And indirectly to their allies and partners.
There are no Russia’s TNW or SONA that has been deployed permanently so close to the continental USA.
Unfortunately, many members of the regional and global anti-nuclear movements do not realize all these facts as if they do not exist. Their one-sided approach to NW (“one state with nukes is good, the other one is bad”) has led to the current rather dramatic situation.
There are no countries in the world that have ever conducted direct talks on reducing TNW or removing such weapons from foreign states.
All attempts made by the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation to start such negotiations have been constantly declined by the USA and NATO as a whole.
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