Russian ally and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said nations willing “to join the Union State of Russia and Belarus” will be given nuclear weapons.
Days after Moscow transferred some tactical nuclear weapons to Minsk amid differences with the U.S. over the Ukraine war, Lukashenko, in an interview with state-run Russia 1 channel, said if any other country wanted to join a Russia-Belarus union, there could be “nuclear weapons for everyone.”
“[N]o one is against Kazakhstan and other countries having the same close relations as we have with the Russian Federation,” Lukashenko said, according to RIA Novosti, a state-owned news outlet.
“It’s very simple,” he said, adding, “Join the Union State of Belarus and Russia. That’s all: there will be nuclear weapons for everyone.”
Belarusian autocrat’s remarks on handing out nuclear weapons to like-minded allies are expected to raise concerns, especially amidst the increasing global proliferation of such weapons. This comes at a time when Vladimir Putin poses a threat to the world with Russia’s exponentially growing nuclear arsenal amid his invasion of Ukraine.
Signed in 1999, the Agreement on Establishment of the Union State of Belarus and Russia Treaty provides a legal framework for a comprehensive alliance between the two allies. This pact encompasses various aspects such as economy, information, technology, agriculture, and border security.
Meanwhile, the Belarusian Defense Ministry over the weekend said that Moscow sent another unit of the S-400 mobile, surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems and will be ready for combat duty soon.
This isn’t the first time Russia has sent nuclear-related weaponry to Belarus.
In May 2022, Belarus purchased nuclear-capable 9K720 Iskander short-range ballistic missiles from Russia.
That arms deal also included a number of S-400 surface-to-air systems. With the SAM systems and ballistic missiles, Lukashenko boasted that Belarus “[now has] a completely different army with such weapons.”
“At the very least, this weapon can cause unacceptable, colossal damage,” he added.
The Iskander is a versatile ballistic missile produced by Russia. In addition to nuclear warheads, the missiles can mount cluster munitions, several air explosive warheads, bunker-penetration, and more.
Russia shipped the first S-400 SAM systems in January 2022, just weeks before it began its invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced that it planned to deploy the S-400s in two phases. The first phase was to consist of assigning force groupings in Belarus. The second announced phase involved joint exercises.
The two-phase deployment was scheduled to end on Febuary 20, 2022.
Produced in association with Benzinga
Edited by Sterling Creighton Beard and Alberto Arellano