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Kremlin keeps trying nuclear threats to deter Western arms supplies to Ukraine – ISW

Kremlin keeps trying nuclear threats to deter Western arms supplies to Ukraine – ISW
In 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.

ISW continues to assess that the risk of nuclear escalation remains extremely low and that Russian deployments of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus are highly unlikely to affect battlefield realities in Ukraine.

Russian-deployed nuclear weapons in Belarus additionally will almost certainly remain under the control of Russian personnel permanently deployed in Belarus.

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