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On Thursday, despite urgent warnings from the U.S. and other Western allies, Belarus and Russia signed an agreement to formalize the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory as part of the formation of what the two countries have called a 'union state.'
Now, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has announced that Russia is already in the process of transferring some of its non-strategic nuclear weapons to Belarus.
In Minsk, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin along with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, said, "Deployment of nonstrategic nuclear weapons is an effective response to the aggressive policy of countries unfriendly to us."
Shoigu added that "In the context of an extremely sharp escalation of threats on the western borders of Russia and Belarus, a decision was made to take countermeasures in the military-nuclear sphere."
While it has been reported for months that Russia had plans to transfer some of its tactical nukes to Belarus, it was unclear until this week whether or not such a transfer had actually occurred.
It is also unclear how many such weapons would be transferred or what type, given that the U.S. estimates that Russia has approximately 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons.
According to TASS in late March, Belarus made the request that Russia moves some of its weapons onto its territory saying "As the Russian leader indicated, the construction of storage facilities for tactical nuclear weapons will be completed in Belarus by July 1."
"Moscow has already provided Minsk with Iskander tactical missile systems capable of carrying nuclear weapons and has helped Minsk to re-equip its military aircraft to carry specialized weapons," TASS had previously reported. "As well, Belarusian missile crews and pilots have undergone training in Russia."
Meanwhile, NATO has blasted the move calling the decision "dangerous and irresponsible." Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy head has said that "Belarus hosting Russian nuclear weapons would mean an irresponsible escalation & threat to European security. Belarus can still stop it, it is their choice. The EU stands ready to respond with further sanctions." The EU is already working on an 11th round of sanctions to impose on Russia.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that the U.S. has long participated in a similar nuclear-sharing program with some American tactical nuclear weapons being stationed in locations like Turkey and other NATO locations across Europe, explained Zerohedge.
Shoigu also noted on Thursday that NATO has used the war in Ukraine as an excuse to build up its military infrastructure in the area.
"NATO is using the Ukrainian crisis as a pretext for building up its groups. Another stage of the alliance's expansion has been launched. Military infrastructure is being modernized in Eastern adn Central Europe, strike weapons are being deployed, and the scale and intensity of joint exercises are increasing," Shoigu pointed out during a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Council of Defense Ministers.
He also drew attention to "the growing aggressive rhetoric and joint 'nuclear missions' by NATO countries in Eastern Europe for practicing the use of nuclear weapons delivery systems, as well as the upgrading of the components of the U.S. global missile defense system."
Shoigu's remarks seem to explain why Belarus requested Russian tactical nuclear weapons be hosted on its soil, but regardless of the potential reason, NATO countries remain alarmed by the speed with which both Russia and Belarus have proceeded in making it a reality.
Lithuania is rubbed-up against Belarus (White Russia), but not one word about Lithuania.
does the Iskander have long range? no specs.
the writer does, however, indulge in the modern weasel-speak 'unclear', twice! writers who don't get the information say it's unclear, as if it isn't possible to know, so the reporter is off the hook for not doing his/her job.