Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that Putin has signed a deal to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus as a measure to counter potential military threats in the military-nuclear sphere.
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Moscow and Minsk have signed a deal to formalise the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear missiles on Belarusian territory.
Russia on Thursday said the step was driven by rising tensions with the West.
“In the context of an extremely sharp escalation of threats on the western borders of Russia and Belarus, a decision was made to take countermeasures in the military-nuclear sphere,” Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency quoted Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying.
The deployment of the missiles was first announced by President Vladimir Putin in March.
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Since invading Ukraine last year, Putin has said repeatedly that Russia would be ready to use nuclear weapons if needed to defend its “territorial integrity”.
NATO said at the time it did not see any need to adjust its own nuclear posture, although the military alliance cast Putin’s nuclear rhetoric as “dangerous and irresponsible”.
But Richard Weitz, a Washington, DC-based foreign policy and defence analyst, told Al Jazeera that Russia was unlikely to benefit “in the purely military sense”.
“Russia already has thousands of nuclear weapons, and some of them are already deployed on the ground or on aeroplanes, near where the Belarusian facilities are likely to be located. So, it adds a couple more locations to what Russia already has,” he said.
“It’s political signalling … The Russian government at the highest levels will issue statements warning on the risk of nuclear war if NATO does give Patriots to Ukraine, give F-16s to Ukraine.
“It’s a way of just reminding the West that Russia is this great nuclear power and that the West better be careful, or we could stumble into a nuclear war.
Iran has unveiled an advanced medium-range ballistic missile called the Khoramshahr-4 or Kheibar missile, which was designed by experts from the Ministry of Defense’s Aerospace Industries Organization.