Espreso. Global

Putin raises stakes and level of blackmail - military intelligence on nuclear threat from Belarus

20 July, 2023 Thursday

A military intelligence official assessed the possible threat of nuclear weapons use by Belarus and said that Vladimir Putin is raising the stakes and using blackmail


Andriy Yusov, a representative of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, said this in an exclusive interview with Espreso TV channel.

According to Yusov, Russian tactical nuclear weapons have long been deployed in Belarus near the NATO border, posing a threat not only to Ukraine but also to NATO member states. He also noted that elements of nuclear weapons or the weapons themselves are very close to the territory of Ukraine.

In addition, according to Ukrainian intelligence, recent events with the Wagner PMC uprising and the movement of mercenaries to Belarus have again raised this issue.

"So nothing has changed for us here. Raising the stakes, increasing blackmail - yes, this is what Putin is actually doing," the intelligence official said.

Instead, Lukashenko, according to Yusov, traditionally tries to maximise his personal benefits.

Yusov recalled that on the eve of the NATO summit in Vilnius, the presidents of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia addressed a statement to the alliance's leadership regarding a possible threat to the national security of the countries, which, according to them, originated from the territory of Belarus.

"Obviously, it was not only about the Wagner soldiers, but also about the nuclear weapons that the Russians promised to deploy as early as 1 or 2 July and build a storage facility in the Republic of Belarus," the representative said.

Yusov also added that Poland has even started considering the possibility of deploying US nuclear weapons on its territory.

Nuclear weapons in Belarus

Since mid-March, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been blackmailing the world with nuclear weapons and said that a storage facility for Russian tactical nuclear weapons would be completed in Belarus by 1 July.

Instead, the Institute for the Study of War reported that Putin announced the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus to frighten the West and reduce the effectiveness of Ukraine's counteroffensive.

"The announcement of the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus has nothing to do with the risk of nuclear war, which remains extremely low. Thus, Putin is only trying to exploit Western fears of nuclear escalation," the institute wrote.

The day after Putin's statement, NSDC Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said that the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus increases the level of rejection of Russia and Putin in Belarusian society. In his turn, advisor to the head of the Presidential Office Mykhaylo Podolyak noted that with this statement, Vladimir Putin admits to fear of losing the war.

The German Foreign Ministry criticised Russia's deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus and called it an "attempt to intimidate".  

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) noted that the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus could lead to a catastrophe.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine responded to Russia's intentions to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus and demanded that the UN Security Council be convened.  

It also called on Belarusian society to prevent Russia's crimes on their territory, as this would further turn the country into a hostage to Moscow and have catastrophic consequences in the future.

In April, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced the transfer of Iskanders, which can carry nuclear weapons, to Belarus. And in late May, the Belarusian army held exercises in which it trained to strike with Iskanders.

Self-proclaimed President Alexander Lukashenko said that nuclear weapons could be used from the territory of Belarus only in case of a direct threat to his country.

On 14 June, the Belarusian dictator said that the country had already started receiving nuclear weapons from Russia. He stressed that it could be used from the territory of Belarus only in case of a direct threat to his country.

On 16 June, Putin announced that Russia had transferred part of its nuclear weapons to Belarus. The rest will be transferred by the end of the year.

The head of Ukraine's Main Intelligence Directorate, Kyrylo Budanov, said that Russia had not yet transferred a single nuclear warhead to Belarus. He is convinced that Russia will not use nuclear weapons in a war against Ukraine.

On 27 June, Polish President Andrzej Duda said that the presence of Wagner and Prigozhin's PMCs in Belarus is an important security issue and requires a strong response from NATO.

On 28 June, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that a clear message had been sent to Moscow and Minsk that "NATO exists to protect every ally".

The Presidents of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, Andrzej Duda, Egils Levits and Gitanas Nausėda, wrote a letter to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and NATO partners calling for measures to counter the threats posed by Russia's aggressive actions and the changing situation in Belarus

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