It is terrifying. Belarus is going to become a deployment location for nuclear weapons, controlled by an elderly dictator who’s gone mad and launched a bloody war in Europe.

Yesterday, only a few hours after Vladimir Putin had announced his plans to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus, numerous hypotheses appeared as people tried to understand the reasons for such decision and what to expect because of it. I have my own vision on the issue. Also, I believe it’s the most serious problem in a long time that Belarus has encountered. Anyway, first things first.

Saturday night, in the TV show «Moscow. Kremlin. Putin» on the TV channel Russia-24, Vladimir Putin announced that Minsk and Moscow had agreed to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. According to the Russian president, Aliaksandr Lukashenka had been asking for that for a long time. Nuclear weapons storage facility construction for that purpose is supposed to be completed by July, 1.  Putin also reminded that Russia had transferred to Belarus an Iskander missile system able to carry nuclear warheads and helped to reequip 10 airplanes of the Belarusian Air Force to be used with that type of combat element.

Traditionally, Vladimir Putin said, it wasn’t his fault and he only copied some actions the USA had performed long before him: «We are not transferring nuclear weapons. And the USA are not transferring them to their allies. In general, we are doing everything they have been doing for decades. They have allies in certain countries, and they equip their carriers and train their crews. We are going to do the same thing». According to the bunker dweller, the decision to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus was caused by the statement of Great Britain about deliveries of DU tank shells to Ukraine.

Ironically, in the morning of the same day, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said that the visit of Xi Jinping to Moscow reduced the threat of nuclear war. According to him, Xi Jinping made it very clear to Putin, that he should not use nuclear weapons. However, as we can see, the European diplomat was wrong. The Kremlin has not stopped wielding the «nuclear big stick», but began doing it even more blatantly.

Yet, as they say, you need two to dance a tango. While Belarus is formally an independent state, Putin cannot deploy nuclear weapons to its territory without the consent of Lukashenka. It looks like, we can observe some sort of a deal here. It’s highly probable, that Lukashenka agreed to the deployment of nuclear weapons so that Moscow would «allow» him not to send Belarusian troops to Ukraine. He understands: if the Belarusian army directly engages in the war in Ukraine, it will be destroyed fast. While nuclear weapons create a chance that Europeans will get scared, pressurize Kyiv, and the war will get «frozen».

Anyway, for several decades nuclear weapons have been a painful issue for Lukashenka, sort of an «abscess for his ego». For years, he’s been saying that the decision to withdraw nuclear weapons from Belarus had been a mistake. To remind, that decision was made in 1992, and the procedure was completed in November 1996.

In February, 2022, Lukashenka claimed that in case any threats from the West arrive, Russian nuclear weapons would be deployed in Belarus. According to him, he had asked the Russian Federation to create a military center in Belarus for assimilation of Iskanders, as Belarus was planning to buy that type of arms. (The center has never been created, but Iskanders did arrive to Belarus).

In June, 2022, during a meeting with Putin in Saint Petersburg, Lukashenka proposed to take tit-for-tat measures in the military sphere to the «actions of the West» and «adjust» Belarusian airplanes to carry nuclear warheads. Then, as early as in August, he said that reequipment of Belarusian airplanes into nuclear weapon carriers had been successfully completed.

On March 22, 2023, in Khatyn, commenting to the Russian and Belarusian propagandists on the plans of Great Britain to deliver depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine, Lukashenka said that «Russia will deliver us munitions with real uranium». At the time, everybody perceived it as another stupidity of Lukashenka who is famous for his verbal incontinence. However, now it becomes clear, that the «nuclear» scenario for Belarus had already been written by that time, and was on the table.

Deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus is an extremely bad sign. In response, the NATO countries can start deployment of similar types of weaponry in Baltic countries and in Poland. Once again, as in pre-Gorbachev times, Europe will become impregnated with nuclear weapons in addition to regular ones. The system of nuclear security is heading for the abyss, which means the defense spending is going to expand. Ok, Russia does not count, as no expanses have been taken into consideration there for a long time. Challenges for the Kremlin are more important than expenses. Deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus will cause reduction in social, educational and other budgets in Russia itself. Russia is going to burn money in the defense stove. However, it should be remembered that such stove lives at the cost of lives of entire generations, impossibilities to reach goals, belt-tightening and giving up on dreams. By the way, the same thing concerns Belarus.

The harshness of the statements of Vladimir Putin and his intentions speaks for the upcoming serious turn of events. If he were addressing the «collective West» with another warning, then a word about a hypothetical transportation of the nuclear arms to the Belarusian forests would be enough. Nevertheless, the head of the Kremlin spoke of that step like a done deal, and in addition to that, he decisively agreed with the conclusions about the American trace in the gas pipeline explosions in the Baltic Sea. Such situation cannot hang in the current state for a long time, as it demands further implementation of the made threatening gesture.

Indeed, no one prevents Russia from using nuclear weapons to defend Belarus from an attack, as it’s been declared, without deploying it in our territory.  Therefore, the aim of the current demarche is first of all political. Precisely: to destroy the old-world order and to demonstrate that Russia has a wide-scale potential for further destabilization in case the interests Moscow considers critically important are ignored.

Yet, at the same time, Moscow’s decision to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus brings huge and serious risks into our territory. Belarus thus becomes a potential victim of a nuclear war. Yet Belarusians have never given any mandate to Lukashenka to turn them into a nuclear target. Belarus has always announced its non-nuclear and neutral status, which it is going to lose permanently. However, Lukashenka and Putin are acting according to Soviet-epoch templates. They are playing on European fears and want to intimidate the Western public opinion with a risk of nuclear war. It’s not guaranteed their attempt will be successful.

The West will certainly perceive the deployment of Putin’s nukes in Belarus as proliferation of nuclear weapons which is violation of slightly more than every international agreement. It means, that NATO countries will have the right (at least a moral one, but most probably, juridical, too) to inflict such a blow on the Belarusian territory that will disrupt every Kremlin’s plan to deploy nuclear arms there.

Simply said, as soon as the nuclear weapons storage facilities mentioned by Putin are ready (or almost ready), most probably they will be targeted with conventional weapons. As the sad experience of Iraq and Iran shows, a couple of dozens of Tomahawks will be more than enough. It turns out that due to today’s decisions of Putin and Lukashenka, NATO’s cruise missiles are going to hit the Belarusian land. And we will not even be able to blame the West, as the nuclear weapons deployed in our country are even scarier.

Let’s add here, that on March 25, 2023, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) condemned the statement of Vladimir Putin about deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus. «While president Putin possesses nuclear weapons, Europe cannot be safe», said ICAN. According to them, Putin excuses his dangerous escalation by making reference to decades of nuclear exchange inside NATO.

Deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in the Republic of Belarus is a huge step towards an escalation of the current war in Europe. During this war, Putin has made nuclear threats multiple times, but he has made only one real action, when he announced about termination of the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. Even a verbal threat to use nuclear armaments is an action that has a highly negative impact of the strategical stability in the world. What to say about a real-world transportation of warheads, even tactical ones, into a battle zone?

Therefore, the words of the bunker dweller that the deployment of tactical nukes to Belarus was caused by deliveries of DU tank shells to Ukraine, are particularly worrying: the nuclear weapons constantly appear in the context of the war agenda. Up until recently, it has happened only verbally, but now the warheads are going to be physically relocated.

The «Western balcony of Russia», as Belarus is often called, is being filled with nuclear armaments. With a short time of approach to potential targets, first of all, in Lithuania and Poland. It means that Belarus is, in fact, already occupied by Russia. First Putin sends Russia’s troops to Ukraine from the territory of Belarus, then he deploys his own nukes there. He feels in our country at home.

Do you remember a small white dog of Lukashenka, a spitz he was constantly carrying with him around? Now, Lukashenka himself is Putin’s spitz.

Olga Karach

Our House