In an unprecedented move, Russia decided to establish an agreement to transfer a small part of its arsenal of nuclear weapons to belarus, as reported this Saturday by a Russian news agency. It is the first time since the mid-1990s that Russia has decided to base a part of its nuclear weapons outside its country. A total of ten aircraft capable of carrying weapons have already flown into the area, reports confirm, weapons designed to be used on the battlefield and not to destroy cities.
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and its Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, have strengthened their ties through bilateral meetings in their respective countries. Beyond the symbolic, the nuclear deal reinforces the Kremlin’s confidence in Belarus as one of its main allies in the Ukraine war.
Putin takes the position that the transfer of tactical weapons to Belarus, which lacks nuclear weapons, does not violate any international treaty because they will remain under Russian control at all times. “There is nothing unusual here either: first of all, the United States has been doing this for decades, for a long time they have deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries,” Vladimir Putin justified in a televised message. “We agreed to do the same, without violating our obligations. I emphasize: without violating our international obligations on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons» added the Russian president.
The United States currently has about 100 nuclear warheads deployed at various air bases on the European continent, according to the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, including Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey.
Almost 14 months after the war in Ukraine began, and given the potential nuclear threat it poses to both the West and the rest of the world, the United States was betting on reacting cautiously to the Russian president’s decision to transfer nuclear weapons to Belarus. From the Biden Administration they believe that there are no signs that Moscow plans to use nuclear weapons. “We have seen no reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture and no indication that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon,” a US official stressed on condition of anonymity, adding: “We will remain committed to the collective defense of the alliance of NATO.”
But Ukraine warns that the measure will destabilize Belarus. «The Kremlin took Belarus hostage nuclear,” reacted Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council. During the war in Ukraine, Belarus has made its territory available to Russia to launch ground and air attacks, and has contributed to the training of Russian troops, care for the wounded, and delivery of supplies.
For the EU, Putin’s announcement represents “another escalation of the conflict”, but NATO rules out changes in the nuclear posture. According to the highest representative of community diplomacy, Josep Borrell, this announcement by Vladimir Putin means “another escalation of the conflict” and supposes “a threat to European security”. Some statements are in the same vein as those made by some European partners. For the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this marks a “further attempt at nuclear intimidation” and for Poland, a country that shares a border with Belarus, “a further step forward for Belarus to become a cog in the war machine.” Russian”, in statements by the Foreign Ministry.
Beyond the words of condemnation, the NATO allies are not going to take rash action. “NATO is vigilant and we are closely monitoring the situation. We are not seeing any change in the nuclear posture that leads us to adjust ours,” said a spokesman for the Alliance, in a message very similar to that of the United States. The NATO foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on April 4 and 5 in Brussels and this will be the proper occasion to continue analyzing the situation. In any case, NATO has demonstrated, during this year of war, cold blood and to avoid any step that could be interpreted as a direct participation of the Allies in the war that Russia is waging against Ukraine.
On the political level, the EU has already imposed sanctions on personalities of the Belarusian regime for their involvement in the war in Ukraine and the priority now is to maintain the pressure and support the opposition forces fighting against Lukashenko. “Belarus is a society in the grip of a regime completely captive to its alliance with Moscow and the deployment of tactical weapons in Belarus only increases this degree of dependence on this regime,” Borrell said.
Given these facts, the Spanish politician stressed that we must continue doing “more of the same”: “keep up the sanctions, keep up the pressure, keep up the support for the Belarusian opposition, support them financially and politically, all we can do.”