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Russia Again Threatens Europe by Deploying Tactical Nuclear Weapons to Belarus


On 25th March, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would deploy tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) in Belarus. According to his statement, Russia will start training its crew to use TNWs from 3rd April and plans to finish building a special storage facility for nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus by 1st July.

Russia has already re-equipped 10 Belarusian Air Force planes to use with TNWs - they have Su-27 and Su-30 fighters, which can use such munitions, and they have also deployed Iskander-M operational-tactical complexes on Belarusian territory, which can be TNW carriers.

Putin is trying to justify his decision by saying that Britain is transferring depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine. Such justification is false, because the Russian army also uses depleted uranium shells in the war against Ukraine.

Moreover, the construction of a storage facility for tactical nuclear ammunition in Belarus had started long before London's statements about transferring depleted uranium ammunition to Kyiv.

As part of military exercises in Belarus in 2021-22, Russian troops simulated a situation where the Russian army would use TNWs, as Putin could at any moment order their use on any country in Eastern Europe, especially Poland and the Baltic states.

At the same time, the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) notes that Putin's statement about the deployment of TNWs in Belarus is not connected with the risk of escalating the war in Ukraine into a nuclear one, which is estimated as very low. ISW believes that Putin is trying to exploit Western fears about TNWs and thus stop support for Ukraine to repel a Russian invasion.

The Western response to Moscow's "nuclear threats" should therefore be even stronger military support for Ukraine, tougher sanctions, particularly against Rosatom, and the international isolation of Russia.

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