President Alexander Lukashenko announced on Friday that Russia, which has already decided to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, could also place intercontinental nuclear missiles in the country if necessary.
In his annual address to lawmakers and government officials, Lukashenko stated that Moscow’s plans to position nuclear arms in its close ally’s territory would help protect Belarus, which he claimed was under threat from the West. Lukashenko said, “I am not trying to intimidate or blackmail anyone. I want to safeguard the Belarusian state and ensure peace for the Belarusian people.”
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin declared on Saturday that tactical missiles would remain under Moscow’s control, Lukashenko implied that he could utilize them with Russia’s consent if Belarus faced annihilation. Lukashenko also mentioned the possibility of deploying strategic nuclear weapons, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of destroying entire cities from thousands of miles away, on Belarusian soil. He stated, “If necessary, Putin and I will decide and bring in strategic weapons – if needed.”
Lukashenko also warned the audience, “Take my word for it, I have never deceived you. They are preparing to invade Belarus, to destroy our country.” Russia’s decision to station tactical nuclear missiles in Belarus, in light of increased tensions with the West over its invasion of Ukraine, marks the first deployment of nuclear weapons outside its borders since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
Belarus claimed this week that these weapons would protect against what it called a “pressure campaign” from the United States and its allies, aimed at overthrowing Lukashenko, who has been in power for almost three decades. US President Joe Biden expressed concern about the planned deployment on Tuesday, calling it “worrisome.” In his speech, Lukashenko also called for an immediate, unconditional ceasefire in the Ukraine war, warning that Russia would resort to using “the most terrible weapon” if it felt threatened.
Lukashenko stated, “It is impossible to defeat a nuclear power. If the Russian leadership understands that the situation threatens to cause Russia’s disintegration, it will use the most terrible weapon. This cannot be allowed.” The Kremlin acknowledged Lukashenko’s ceasefire proposal, noting that Putin and Lukashenko would have an opportunity to discuss it next week, but that the situation in Ukraine remained unchanged. Ukraine has previously rejected Minsk offers of a ceasefire.