Editor’s NoteIn its latest assessment of the Russian offensive campaign, the US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) says that the Kremlin “continues to attempt to employ nuclear threats to deter Western military aid provisions to Ukraine ahead of Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu justified Russia’s decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus by accusing NATO of intensifying combat training and reconnaissance activities near the Russian and Belarusian borders and accused the West of escalating the war in Ukraine by providing additional military aid to Ukraine on April 4.
Shoigu reinforced existing Russian nuclear threats by stating that Belarus has nuclear-capable attack aircraft and nuclear strike-capable Iskander-M systems.
Shoigu also stated that Belarusian missile forces began training in Russia to operate Iskander-M systems, including the use of tactical nuclear weapons, on April 3.
Shoigu’s statements do not present any new information on Belarusian training and are likely part of an information operation. ISW previously reported that Belarusian servicemen were training with Iskander systems in Russia as of February 2023.
Shoigu’s reinvigorated nuclear blackmail rhetoric coincides with Finland joining NATO and a new US aid package to Ukraine.
Russian-deployed nuclear weapons in Belarus additionally will almost certainly remain under the control of Russian personnel permanently deployed in Belarus.
- Deployment of nukes to Belarus is response to NATO’s expansion, Russia’s Defense Minister claoms
- China calls for de-escalation and blames US after Putin decides to deploy nukes to Belarus
- UK, France, US vowed to retaliate with conventional weapons if Russia nuked Ukraine – media
- Harsh warnings convinced Putin not to use nukes – Nuland
- US speeds up plans to store upgraded nukes in Europe – Politico citing US diplomatic cable
Tags: Belarus, Nuclear blackmail, Russia