Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has called on countries around the world to join the Russia-Belarus alliance, promising “nuclear weapons for everyone” that decides to do so. The man known as Europe’s last dictator issued a thinly-veiled warning to the West a week after Russia moved ahead with its plans to supply Belarus with nuclear weapons.
It comes as a senior Belarusian official said Western countries left Belarus with no choice but to deploy tactical nuclear weapons.
In an interview published on Russia’s state television late on May 28, Lukashenko said that it must be “strategically understood” that Minsk and Moscow have a unique chance to unite.
He added: “No one is against Kazakhstan and other countries having the same close relations that we have with the Russian Federation.
“If someone is worried … (then) it is very simple: join in the Union State of Belarus and Russia. That’s all: there will be nuclear weapons for everyone.”
He said that these were his own views, not necessarily that of Vladimir Putin and Russia.
Belarus and Russia are formally part of a Union State, a borderless union and alliance between the two former Soviet republics.
Russia used the territory of Belarus as a launchpad for its invasion of their common neighbour Ukraine in February last year.
Since then their military cooperation has intensified, with joint training exercises on Belarusian soil.
On Sunday, the Belarusian Defence Ministry said that another unit of the S-400 mobile, surface-to-air missile systems arrived from Moscow, with the systems to be ready for combat duty soon.
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Meanwhile, Alexander Volfovich, state secretary of Belarus’ Security Council, blamed Western countries for their need for nuclear weapons.
He said it was logical that the weapons were withdrawn after the 1991 Soviet collapse as the United States had provided security guarantees and imposed no sanctions.
However, he added: “Today, everything has been torn down. All the promises made are gone forever.”
Russia says its “special military operation” in Ukraine was aimed at countering what it says is a drive by the “collective West” to wage a proxy war and inflict a defeat on Moscow.
“The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus is therefore one of the steps of strategic deterrence,” Volfovich said.
“If there remains any reason in the heads of Western politicians, of course, they will not cross this red line.”
He said any resort to using “even tactical nuclear weapons will lead to irreversible consequences”.
Lukashenko last week said the weapons were already on the move, but it is not yet clear when they will be in place.