President Lukashenko of Belarus Announces Warplanes Modified to Hold Nuclear Weapons

Dr. E.C. Beuck
President Alexander Lukashenko of BelarusPresidential Executive Office of Russia

President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus announced today that the SU-24 warplanes utilized by the Belarusian military have now been modified to carry nuclear weapons. Moreover, he has warned that Minsk would react to any attempts by the West to cause it problems. The effort to modernise the SU-24 warplanes to be able to carry these kinds of weapons comes despite the lack of Belarusian control over any nuclear weapons. That being said, in a previous meeting with President Putin on June 25, it was made clear that "within several months" Russia would be transferring Iskander-M missiles (capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads) to Belarus at the same time that the upgrading of Belarusian warplanes would be occurring. If Russia ends up deciding to provide nuclear weapons to Belarus as well, the nuclear balance in Europe would shift and the risk of a potential clash between NATO and Russia would increase.

According to President Lukashenko, the move comes as a result of concerns about potential future threats coming from NATO, specifically neighboring Poland. President Lukashenko himself stated: “It’s not a good idea to escalate things with Belarus because that would be an escalation with the Union State (of Russia and Belarus) which has nuclear weapons. If they start to create problems ... the response will be immediate.”

A close ally of Russia, Belarus allowed its neighbor to stage part of its military forces for the initial invasion of Ukraine in its territory, as its shared border with Ukraine represented the shortest land route to the Ukrainian capital. Since that time, Belarus has indicated that it would not join Russian forces in deploying to Ukraine, though there are reports that Russian military equipment and soldiers remain deployed in Belarus and that Russian missiles have been launched from Belarusian territory to strike targets in Ukraine.

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Holding a PhD in Political Science, I write about current events and on political topics related to international relations, international law, conflict both between and within states, and the interactions between technology and politics.

Washington, DC

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