Russia to Post Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Belarus
Like the next door neighbor’s kid moving a new drum set into the house, Ukraine is watching with anxiety as Russia moves nuclear weapons onto Belarussian territory.
What happened: Over the weekend, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia struck a deal with Belarus to host tactical nuclear weapons in the nation, though claimed it didn’t violate nuclear proliferation treaties.
- Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko – often described as Europe’s last dictator – is supportive of President Putin following a bailout ‘gift’ from Russia with love back in 2020.
Russia has already stationed 10 aircraft in the country capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons and is looking to deploy Iskander mission systems which could fire them from the ground.
What are tactical nukes? Typically smaller than traditional warheads, tactical nuclear weapons are more for making tactical gains rather than blowing up cities.
But being smaller makes them more dangerous
… because they’re more likely to actually get used. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the fact they are more useful militarily and less politically objectionable, tactical nukes are more likely to be used in combat.
Russia’s justification: Invoking the traditional schoolyard rule of “they did it first”, President Putin said, “there is nothing unusual here either: firstly, the United States has been doing this for decades. They have long deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries.”
Zoom out: Last month, despite Russia backing away from a nuclear arms control treaty, President Joe Biden did not think Russia was considering using his nuclear weapons. But given that the Doomsday Clock moved to just 90 seconds earlier this year, things aren’t exactly headed in a comfortable direction.