Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has confirmed that Russia has moved ahead with the deployment of tactical nukes to Belarus.
Moscow and Minsk signed agreements this week on the deployment of Russian tactical nukes at a special storage facility in Belarus. We had to prepare storage areas and the like. We have done this, so the movement of nuclear weapons has already begun.
The deployment will mean a significant security boost for Minsk, and threaten to unravel NATO’s entire missile defense strategy, says international relations and security analyst Mark Sleboda.
The Biden administration responded predictably, with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre slamming the nuclear deployment as yet another example of making irresponsible and provocative choices by Russia, and reiterating Washington’s commitment to collective defense of the NATO alliance.
Jean-Pierre’s remarks echo those made by NATO in March, when Moscow and Minsk first outlined plans on the transfer of tactical nukes to Belarusian soil.
At that time, an alliance spokesperson called Russia’s plans dangerous and irresponsible, and dismissed any suggestion that the decision was a response to longstanding NATO policy – including the stationing of US nukes on European soil.
The NATO atom bombs are located in a number of EU countries, including Belgium, Italy, Germany. They’ve been there for decades, and Russia has long complained about it.
And that longstanding grievance, combined with other NATO escalations, convinced Russia that if you set the precedent and you don’t consider it a violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, then you can hardly accuse us of doing the same if we do it in Belarus.
But of course, hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Russia’s move isn’t an act of escalation so much as it is an act of equity, according to Sleboda, with the decision sending a definite signal on Russia’s commitment to Belarus’ security, and the future of any potential NATO-Russia conflict.
Combined with the deployment of Russian Iskander-M missile systems and the modification of Belarusian jets to carry nuclear weapons, the analyst hopes the move will cool any hotheads in the Pentagon, Warsaw, and NATO as a whole.
Pointing to Belarus’ alliance with Russia, including its membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Russian-Belarusian Union State, is something that’s not often talked about with the West because they don’t like to acknowledge its existence.
Sleboda recalling the regular threats to Belarusian security from the West, including an attempted color revolution in the country in 2020.
On top of that are the strategic considerations, both given NATO’s nuclear provocations – like staging nuclear-capable bomber drills near Russia’s borders over the Black and Baltic Seas in recent years.
But also longstanding efforts to create missile defenses in Eastern Europe to try to render Russia’s nuclear deterrent obsolete. The nuclear deployment in Belarus should counter these threats, from Moscow’s perspective, Sleboda believes.
Along with the increased security, the nuclear agreement might mean the transfer of additional advanced military hardware to Belarus, and perhaps some undercover economic sweeteners for Minsk, like cheaper gas prices.
Asked about what the nuclear deployment in Belarus means for Russia’s nuclear doctrine, and whether it signals a shift in Moscow’s willingness to preemptively use nuclear weapons, Sleboda stressed that until Moscow announces otherwise, Russia’s nuclear doctrine does not allow for a first strike capability.
And I have to say that in this particular situation I find such use of nuclear threats (that are not part of Russia’s nuclear doctrine and so are meaningless) to be less than constructive,” Sleboda noted.
Otherwise, the international security observer noted, Russia’s nuclear doctrine is clear, and that unless someone uses nukes or other WMD’s against Russia first, a nuclear response will not follow, including in Ukraine.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point Europe News 2023.