Russia signed an agreement with the Belarus government on Thursday to formalise the deployment of tactical nuclear missiles on the latter country’s territory, according to TASS, a Russian-based news agency. The Defence ministers of Russia and Belarus, Sergey Shoigu and Viktor Khrenin, respectively signed the documents on Thursday defining the procedures for storing Russian nuclear weapons at a special facility on Belarusian territory, the Belarusian Defense Ministry reported.
“During the meeting, documents determining the procedure for keeping Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons in a special storage facility on the territory of the Republic of Belarus were signed,” the ministry’s press service said. The measures taken by Russia and Belarus “comply with all existing international legal obligations,” Shoigu stressed.
The defence ministers discussed the current military and political situation and issues of military and technical cooperation between the two countries. Earlier, on March 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on the Rossiya-24 news channel that at the request of the Belarusian side, it will deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, just as the United States has been doing on the territories of its allies, according to TASS.
“Even out of the context of these events, this statement (about the possible supply of depleted uranium shells by the UK to Ukraine – TASS), Alexander Grigorievich Lukashenko has long raised the issue of deploying Russian tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus,” Putin said. He stressed that “there is nothing unusual about this.”
He claimed that the US has been doing the same for decades. The US placed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territories of their allied countries, NATO countries, in Europe a long time ago, Putin said. He further stated that in six states, the Federal Republic of Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Greece, there aren’t any tactical nuclear weapons for now, but there is a storage facility.
“And we agreed [with Belarus] that we will do the same. Without violating – I want to emphasize this – our international obligations on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons,” the Russian President stressed. In March, he also talked about the crew training and storage. “We have already helped our Belarusian colleagues to reequip their planes. Ten planes are ready to apply this type of weapon. We have handed over to Belarus our well-known and very effective Iskander system that can carry [nuclear weapons]. On April 3, we will start training the crew and on July 1 we will complete the construction of a special storage for tactical nuclear weapons on the Belarusian territory,” Putin said.
“Thus, everything the President of Belarus asked about, all the issues he raised in this regard, they are being implemented, and all our agreements will be reached in the very near future,” the Russian leader further said But he stressed that Russia does not transfer such weapons to Belarus, just as the United States does not transfer them to its allies, reported TASS.
Earlier, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, in response to the UK’s plans to supply depleted uranium shells to Ukraine, said that Russia would supply Belarus “ammunition with real uranium.” 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. Also, Belarusian missile crews and pilots have undergone training in Russia.