Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated that the West is preparing to invade Belarus from Poland and has welcomed Moscow’s plans to station Russian tactical nuclear warheads in the country to safeguard its security. The Belarusian leader said he has intensified talks about deploying both tactical and strategic nuclear weapons, which are more powerful, with Russian President Vladimir Putin to deal with threats from Ukraine’s allies who are allegedly planning a coup against him. Lukashenko also confirmed Moscow has transferred an Iskander short-range missile system, which can be fitted with nuclear or conventional warheads, to Belarus.
He stressed that Belarus and Russia would make “every effort and use the means to ensure their sovereignty and independence” against Poland and its Western neighbours, who he accused of building up the “formation of certain regiments, banners, legions,” for a “subsequent coup in Belarus.”
The Belarusian military has been instructed to “immediately restore sites” in Belarus where intercontinental ballistic missile systems with nuclear warheads were previously located. Lukashenko added that he is “confident that these measures” will deter “overseas hawks and their satellites for a long time.”
The move by Lukashenko is said to be a way of throwing off protests against his regime in the country. It is thought to be at least the second meeting between Lukashenko and Putin this month. During his presidency, Lukashenko has maintained close ties with Russia and Moscow supported him politically and economically. In return, Lukashenko has granted Russia access to Belarusian territory to build military bases and obtain energy transit possibilities. Lukashenko is under increased pressure at home due to a decreasing economy and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, he gave a speech vowing to defend Belarus at all costs, including by bringing the military and police onto the streets.
Experts have warned about the nuclear proliferation in Europe, but on the other hand, it is known that various political powers have long-standing nuclear capabilities in Europe. France has the largest arsenal in the European Union, owning an estimated 300 nuclear warheads. The UK is thought to have 215 nuclear bombs, and the US has an estimated 150 nuclear weapons in Europe, making it the only country with nuclear firepower on the continent that is outside of NATO’s nuclear-sharing arrangements.