Putin Confirms Deployment of Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Belarus Amid Ukraine Conflict
Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that an initial shipment of tactical nuclear weapons has been stationed in Belarus. Putin stated that these weapons would only be used if Russia’s territory or state came under threat. However, The US government has stated that there are no indications suggesting that Russia intends to employ nuclear weapons in an attack on Ukraine.
Belarus, a significant ally of Russia, was a launchpad for Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February the previous year. Putin mentioned that the transfer of tactical nuclear warheads would be completed by the end of the summer. Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin explained that the move was intended for “containment” and to remind anyone contemplating a strategic defeat against Russia.
When asked about the possibility of using these weapons, Putin questioned the need to threaten the entire world, reiterating that extreme measures would only be employed if Russian statehood was in jeopardy.
Tactical nuclear weapons are smaller-scale warheads and delivery systems designed for use on the battlefield or for limited strikes. Their purpose is to destroy specific enemy targets without causing widespread radioactive fallout. The smallest tactical nuclear weapons can yield one kiloton or less, while the largest can reach up to 100 kiloton. In comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 yielded 15 kilotons.
Following their visit to Kyiv as part of a peace initiative being presented to Ukraine and Russia, African leaders are scheduled to meet with Putin in St. Petersburg. However, during their stay in the city, it was targeted by Russian missile attacks. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called for de-escalation and peace negotiations from both sides, emphasizing the need to understand the challenges faced by Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, on the other hand, advocated for diplomatic isolation of Russia to send a clear message of international condemnation for its invasion.
Putin reiterated his belief that Ukraine had no chance of succeeding in its counter-offensive and claimed that the Ukrainian military was running out of equipment, relying solely on Western-donated resources. However, Ukraine has dismissed these assertions and stated that it is progressing in reclaiming territories in eastern and southern Ukraine. Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar reported advancements of 2km in all directions in the southern part of the country.
In addition to discussing military matters, Putin also addressed economic themes, highlighting that Western sanctions had failed to isolate Russia and led to expanded trade with “the markets of the future.” He praised new trade deals with Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American countries, referring to them as “reliable, responsible partners.”