The nuclear agreement: – The regime in Belarus is now at the mercy of Russia

MISSILE FIRING: The photo was taken a few days ago and shows an Iskander short-range missile fired from the Russian side in the war against Ukraine. This missile system can also be equipped with tactical nuclear weapons and it will now be deployed in Belarus. Photo: TASS / SipaUSA

With the agreement in place, the chance that Putin will actually deploy tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus increases. – The country has now lost its independence, says a researcher at the Norwegian Defense Academy.


Less than 20 minutes ago

  • Russia and Belarus have signed an agreement on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
  • The agreement increases the chance that Putin will deploy nuclear weapons in the neighboring country.
  • The United States strongly condemns the agreement.
  • Belarus is now considered more dependent on Russia, and analysts believe the country has lost its security policy independence.
  • Researchers emphasize that it is primarily a matter of deterrence on Putin’s part, but that the possibility of deployment is now present.

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Russia and Belarus have signed an agreement to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, the Russian announced news agency Tass Thursday.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu tells the Russian media that Western countries are waging an “undeclared war” against Russia and Belarus.

On Thursday evening, the United States strongly condemned the agreement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the deployment in Belarus already in March this year and Thursday’s signing is a mere formality, according to the AP news agency.

The agreement applies tactical nuclear weapons tactical nuclear weaponsTactical nuclear weapons are intended to destroy enemy troops and weapons on the battlefield. They have a relatively short range and much lower capacity than nuclear warheads mounted on long-range strategic missiles capable of wiping out entire cities., i.e. weapons with a shorter range intended for defense. The two countries are close allies, and Russian forces used Belarus when they invaded Ukraine last February.

Putin’s nuclear announcement in March was seen by analysts as a direct warning to the West, which was in the process of stepping up military support for Ukraine. – We must stretch further, said Norway’s Minister of Defense Bjørn Arild Gram (Sp).

Russia has not yet deployed nuclear weapons in Belarus, but according to the authorities in Minsk, Belarusian soldiers have received training in the use of the Iskander system, which can fire missiles with nuclear warheads.

The Iskander-M is a Russian short-range solid-propellant missile. The range is limited to 500 km according to The INF Agreement The INF AgreementThe INF Treaty is a disarmament agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union from 1988, which obliged the countries to remove an entire group of land-based intermediate-range missiles with nuclear weapons.,

According to AP, Putin has said that the construction of storage facilities for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus will be completed by July 1 this year.

US authorities believe Russia has around 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons.

SHOWN IN THE PARADE: The Iskander-M short-range missile system is paraded in St. Petersburg on May 9 in commemoration of the 78th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. Photo: Dmitri Lovetsky / AP / NTB

The think tank Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) lists three scenarios for a possible Russian nuclear attack on Ukraine.

1. Perform tests as a warning to Ukraine and its supporters.

2. Using battlefield weapons against Ukrainian military or energy infrastructure targets.

3. Nuclear weapons as terror against Ukrainian civilian targets or Ukraine’s neighboring partners.

And with this agreement, Putin seems to be setting up the possibility of going for scenario 2.

– What does this agreement mean?

– It is clear that Russia has now tied Belarus even closer to itself and that President Lukashenko’s room for action is very limited after this. The country has now lost its independence with regard to its security policy line and the regime are now at Russia’s mercy, says associate professor Ingerid M. Opdahl at the Department of Defense Studies (IFS)/Forsvarets høgskole to VG.

Read more: Flood of rumors about Lukashenko – did not appear at the national celebration

Lars Peder Haga, associate professor at the Air Force Academy, tells VG that the agreement concretely means that Russia can deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus.

– The weapons will be under the control of the Russian military. But it is Belarusian personnel who will carry out any launches of the weapons, says Haga.

RESEARCHER: Ingerid M. Opdahl is associate professor at the Department of Defense Studies (IFS) Photo: IFS

Opdahl says that Belarus declared himself as a non-nuclear weapon state in its constitution.

– But that provision was removed in 2021–22. Now their dependence on Russia is deepening, she says.

The pressure on Lukashenko has increased greatly after the 2020 election and the demonstrations and after the invasion of Ukraine, opined Opdahl.

– What is the probability that Putin is serious about the deployment?

– Well, Lukashenko has said in typical ambiguous fashion today that the deployment is underway. But it is difficult to know, she says.

Anyway, now the agreement is in place and then the opportunity is there to deploy the weapons.

EXPERT: Lars Peder Haga is an associate professor at the Norwegian Air Force School. Photo: Luftkrigskolen

Gave up its nuclear weapons in 1991

Opdahl believes that two things in particular are important for Belarus in this process. Firstly, the agreement makes it difficult for the country to have other roles in relation to Ukraine in the future and it consolidates Belarus’ position as a Russian advance zone.

– Also, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Belarus (like Ukraine) gave up its nuclear weapons. In that connection, Russia gave assurances about the countries’ sovereignty. This is now also being undermined when it comes to Belarus, says Opdahl.

– Has Putin pressured Lukashenko in this case?

– Lukashenko is in a difficult situation. He is very unpopular in his country and only has legitimacy in the security forces and the police but experiences very little support in the population. Putin has gotten more of a hold of him in recent years and they have had joint exercises and talk together. At the same time, Lukashenko has been a difficult ally for Putin, Haga believes.

FRIENDS: Belarus’ Prime Minister Alexandr Lukashenko was in Moscow and visited Vladimir Putin in April this year. Photo: Pavel Byrkin / AP

Just deterrence?

– Is this in reality only deterrence on Putin’s part?

– Primarily, this is about deterrence. It is very difficult to assess whether Putin will use these tactical weapons. But what is going on in the heads of the leaders in Moscow, it is not good to say, she says.

Lars Peder Haga reminds that things are getting worse for Russia in the war and it is conceivable that he will deploy these weapons as a deterrent.

– But, when Belarusian forces have received aircraft and missiles that can deliver nuclear weapons and the facilities to store them are ready, the chance that they will actually be deployed increases, says the researcher.


Published: 26/05/23 at 03:03

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The article is in Norwegian

Tags: nuclear agreement regime Belarus mercy Russia


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