Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has stated that Russia could place powerful strategic nuclear weapons in Belarus, on top of the tactical nuclear warheads Moscow is already planning to deploy there.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last week that Moscow would complete the construction of a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus by the beginning of July
Speaking during a national address on Friday, March 31, Lukashenko welcomed Russia’s move, announcing he had intensified talks with Putin about deploying both tactical and strategic nuclear weapons in the country.
While tactical warheads are designed for use in a limited battlefield, for example to destroy a command post or a column of tanks, strategic nuclear warheads are designed to destroy entire cities and as at press time Russia has not announced any plans to send strategic nuclear weapons to Belarus.
Lukashenko, who has been asking Putin for nuclear weapons for a while, claimed Belarus needed the weapons because Ukraine’s Western allies were planning a coup against him. He baselessly accused Western countries of “preparing to invade” Belarus from Poland and “destroy” it.
“If necessary, Putin and I will decide and introduce strategic nuclear weapons here. And they must understand this … We will stop at nothing, protecting our countries, our states and their peoples,” the Belarusian leader was quoted as saying by state media BELGA.
Putin and Lukashenko are scheduled to meet next week.
Belarus is one of Russia’s few allies in its war on Ukraine. While the country’s military isn’t directly involved in the fighting, Belarus helped Russia launch its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, allowing the Kremlin’s troops to enter the country from its territory.
Putin said last week he would not transfer control of the tactical nuclear weapons to Lukashenko, likening the move to Washington’s practice of stationing nuclear weapons in Europe to keep host countries, like Germany, from breaking their commitments as non-nuclear powers.
“Our converted planes can also carry a nuclear warhead. You heard from the president of Russia about joint plans to create the appropriate infrastructure on the territory of Belarus. I just want to clarify: The entire infrastructure has been created and is ready,” Lukashenko said.
Lukashenko said that Minsk and Moscow would make “every effort and use the means to ensure their sovereignty and independence.” He specifically accused Poland and its “zealous” Western neighbors of building up the “formation of certain regiments, banners, legions” for a “subsequent coup in Belarus.”
Speaking to the nation on state TV, Lukashenko also called for the freezing of “hostilities” in Ukraine.
“It is necessary to stop hostilities and declare a truce that prohibits both sides from moving groups of troops and from transferring weapons, ammunition, manpower, and equipment. All stopped, frozen,” Lukashenko said.