Putin promises to arm Belarus with Russian nuclear-capable missiles

Lukashenko asked Putin to help in bolstering Belarus’ defence to combat what he said were nuclear-armed flights by Nato

Related: ‘Putin is weaponising hunger’: Liz Truss blames Russia for food shortages

Vladimir Putin has said Russia will supply nuclear-capable Iskander-M missile systems to its ally Belarus on Ukraine’s border.

“In the coming months, we will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” Mr Putin said in a meeting held with Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday in St Petersburg.

The announcement came the same day Ukraine said it came under a “massive bombardment” of missile strikes launched from Belarusian territory, despite the latter not officially being a party to the conflict.

Belarus said it requested the missile systems, as well as an upgrade to its air force, because it had concerns about what it called the “aggressive”, “confrontational” and “repulsive” policies of its Nato-member neighbours Lithuania and Poland.

Mr Lukashenko asked Mr Putin to help in bolstering Belarus’ defence to combat what he said were nuclear-armed flights by the US-led Nato alliance near Belarus’s borders.

“Minsk must be ready for anything, even the use of serious weaponry to defend our fatherland from Brest to Vladivostok,” he said, putting Belarus and its close ally Russia under one umbrella.

In particular, he asked for help to make Belarus’s military aircraft nuclear-capable.

The details and logistics of the weapons transfer would be discussed by the defence ministers of the two countries later, the Russian president said in his televised address.

The Iskander-M is a mobile guided missile system codenamed “SS-26 Stone” by Nato, which replaced the Soviet “Scud”.

Its two guided missiles have a range of up to 500 km and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.

Mr Putin also said Russia would help Belarus upgrade its fleet of Su-25 fighter jets to make them capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

“This modernisation should be carried out in aircraft factories in Russia and the training of personnel should start in accordance with this,” he added.

Belarus has been a key player in Russia’s battle plans and Mr Lukashenko has been one of the biggest supporters of Mr Putin at a time when the most countries around the world have condemned Moscow’s invasion. The country served as a staging ground for Russian troops to invade on 24 February.

This is not the first time the mention of nuclear weapons has emerged from Russia or its allies. Mr Putin has made several threats about using nuclear since the start of the war in Ukraine, which has now entered its fifth month.

Additional reporting by agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in