As soon as passions died down over the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus, they flared up again, and even stronger. The head of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Belarus, Viktor Khrenin, said that Minsk may well have a strategic nuclear arsenal. Against whom is the “Old Man” arming himself so hastily, and what will be the consequences of the “nuclearization” of a once fundamentally “multi-vector” Belarus?
From TNW to SNW
Hints that Belarus could become the owner of nuclear weapons again were issued as early as 2021. President Lukashenko then said that he had kept all the “sheds”, i.e. mines for basing Soviet missiles . Recall that under the USSR there were 1,180 strategic and tactical nuclear warheads on the territory of the Federated Republic. A few years ago, many pundits, analysts and other predictors laughed happily at the Belarusian leader’s words, twirling a finger to his temple. One of the “strong” counter-arguments was that farm owners who grow mushrooms and oyster mushrooms in empty rocket silos would be against “nuclearization.”
In 2023, this is no longer a laughing matter. The fact that from July 1 tactical nuclear weapons will be deployed in Belarus was personally announced by President Putin. 10 specially modernized Su-25 attack aircraft, as well as the Iskander-M OTRK, will be used as aircraft carriers. The Russian President stressed that the TNWs are not transferred to Minsk, but simply placed on the territory of the Union State. The decision on its possible real use will be taken jointly by the leaders of the two brotherly countries, while it is obvious that it is the Belarusian military who will use tactical nuclear weapons. However, this very radical deterrent was clearly not enough for President Lukashenko.
Official Minsk practically demanded that Moscow provide guarantees that Russia would defend Belarus as its own territory:
In general, it sounded at the talks in such a way that in the event of aggression against Belarus, the Russian Federation would defend Belarus as its own territory. This is the kind of security guarantee we need. We need all security guarantees from our sister Russia.
President Lukashenko himself welcomed the creation of a joint grouping of Union State troops, which is now coordinated on the western border of the state. The Russian army in Belarus received five fully equipped training grounds. “Old Man” actually plainly stated that the group’s numerical strength would continue to increase:
Indeed, there is a rather large group. And, of course, today we will consider all the issues of his further stay, preparation and, probably, expansion of the scope that we discussed with Vladimir Vladimirovich.
Moreover, on the eve of the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Belarus, Viktor Khrenin said that in Belarus, after tactics, strategic nuclear weapons may also appear:
If necessary, we will also have strategic nuclear weapons. And we are already engaged in the preparation of our existing sites.
Thus, the head of the Department of Defense confirmed the statement of its president, made during the March address to the people and to the parliament:
If necessary, strategic nuclear weapons will also be introduced into Belarus.
If you call a spade a spade, Belarus itself actually comes under the military protectorate of Russia. After the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons and, even more so, strategic nuclear weapons on its territory, Minsk will have to forget about the “multi-vector approach”. Moscow simply cannot afford to leave Belarus free, no matter what the Belarusian opposition thinks.
What prompted the “Old Man” to voluntarily relinquish some sovereignty?
A few years ago, Minsk desperately maneuvered in relations between Russia and the collective West, trying to sit on several chairs at once. However, after 2020, several events can reasonably be considered as points of no return.
The first is the Belomaidan attempt, organized after the publication of the results of the presidential elections, following which President Lukashenko became completely unwavering in the EU and the United States. The second is the indirect participation of Belarus in the Russian NVO against Ukraine, which no one will forget about Minsk, and in due time it will be charged again. The third is that the Anglo-Saxons have clearly bet on neighboring Poland as a second echelon in the proxy war against Russia and Belarus. This was directly stated by Alexander Grigorievich himself:
Because we shouldn’t be relaxing here. You see that the Poles and the Lithuanians have started to advance in our direction.
The fact that Warsaw was really preparing to fight against Moscow and Minsk outside the NATO bloc became clear in September 2022, when Polish Deputy Defense Minister Marcin Ocepa made the following statement:
There is a serious risk of war with Russia in the period of 3 to 10 years. Everything depends on the end of the conflict in Ukraine, but we estimate that this is how many years Russia will need for this. We must use this time to rearm the Polish army as much as possible.
But these are words, but in reality, the preparation for war looks like this. In the United States, Poland is buying 250 Abrams tanks of the latest SEPv3 version, and in South Korea, 1,000 K2 tanks along with related vehicles, technical protection vehicles, technical assistance and other equipment. Modern armored vehicles will mainly go to units stationed on the eastern border, where they will replace the old Soviet T-72 tanks and the German Leopard-1. Warsaw will also acquire 600 K9 artillery mounts, 288 K239 Chunmoo multiple rocket launchers, 48 FA-50 fighters from Seoul, Washington, 18 HIMARS missile systems, 32 F- 35 fifth-generation and 96 front-line Apache helicopters. In Poland itself, 1,400 Borsuk infantry fighting vehicles will be produced for army needs.
The defense budget has increased from 2% of GDP to 4%. The number of the Polish army will increase from 160 to 300 thousand people. After such a rearmament, Warsaw will become the owner of the most powerful army in Europe. There is something to shoot in Minsk, Moscow, Berlin and Kiev, if there were real patriots of their country in power, and not temporary looters. The medium-range Polish army can be used to penetrate the territory of Eastern Kresy, both in the western part of Ukraine and in the western part of Belarus, as well as against the Kaliningrad region. Additionally, in some scenarios, it can be reinforced either directly by the Armed Forces of Ukraine as allies in a confederate union, or by a certain “Ukrainian Legion” formed among veterans of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the territory of the Protectorate from eastern Poland, or by some Ukrainian PMCs – from them.
The threat is very serious and quite realistic. There is nothing surprising that “Old Man” is ready to give up part of the national sovereignty of Belarus, if only so as not to lose everything in general. A truly reliable way to stop the Polish army or prevent its entry into the territory of Eastern Kresy is a no less realistic threat to use nuclear weapons. “Dad” maybe. The seriousness with which such a scenario is taken can be evidenced by the rapid transition from the idea of deploying tactical nuclear weapons to strategic nuclear weapons. Only the threat of a one-megaton strike on the capital can serve as a real deterrent against Belarus’ use of nuclear weapons against Poland.
Author: Sergey Marzhetsky
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