In 1997, NATO and the Russian Federation signed a bilateral agreement committing, in particular, the two parties not to extend their respective tactical nuclear strike capabilities beyond their existing format. In other words, NATO undertook not to deploy nuclear weapons beyond the 5 countries participating in the Alliance's shared deterrence (Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey), whereas Russia pledged not to deploy or transfer its nuclear weapons beyond its borders. In fact, when during a new meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was going to deliver to its neighbor and ally short-range ballistic systems Iskander-M, specifying that they could be armed with nuclear warheads, and adding that Russia was going to modernize the Belarusian Su-25s to be able to carry nuclear bombs, this one unquestionably launches a new security crisis in Europe, potentially as risky as was not the Euromissile crisis in the mid-80s.
For the Belarusian President, it is a question, according to him, of responding to the repeated flights of NATO planes armed with nuclear weapons near its borders, and of acquiring a symmetrical response capability in the event of of nuclear aggression by the Atlantic Alliance. In fact, it is extremely unlikely that Moscow will give Minsk any such capability, whether or not it is controlled, as it is in NATO, by a dual key system. On the other hand, such an announcement will most likely allow Russia to deploy Iskander-Ms on Belarusian territory, while firmly maintaining control, claiming that they are operated by local troops, while denouncing, as it had already done so, the 1997 agreement and the presence of US nuclear weapons in Europe, in contradiction, according to Moscow, with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Furthermore, it is very surprising that Vladimir Putin announced the modernization of the Belarusian Su-25s in order to be able to carry out nuclear strikes, these devices not being cut out for this mission, whereas other devices of the Belarusian arsenal, in particular the Mig-29, would be much more suitable.
It should also be noted that Vladimir Putin speaks, in his declarations, of Iskander-M systems, and not of Iskander-E, the version dedicated to the export of the Russian ballistic ground-to-ground missile, which was implemented, without much success, by Armenia during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Indeed, the Iskader-E has less performance, is not designed to carry a nuclear strike, and is not, for example, equipped with the same maneuvering capabilities, nor the self-defense and decoy systems that are equipped with the Iskander-M. These systems were used for the first time in Ukraine by Russian forces, and proved effective against S-300s protecting major Ukrainian cities.
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