MINSK, May 25. /TASS/. The deployment of Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons in Belarus is intended to prompt the leaders of unfriendly countries to give some serious thought to the unacceptability of further escalating tensions in the region, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin said on Thursday.
"This [deployment] will be an effective response to the aggressive policies of unfriendly nations, and we hope that it will make their leaders think about the inadmissibility of a further escalation in the region," the Belarusian Defense Ministry quoted Khrenin as saying during the signing of nuclear deployment documents with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoigu, at a ceremony in Minsk.
Minsk is focused on ensuring the readiness of its armed forces to carry out their assigned missions, including to protect the [Russia-Belarus] Union State's western borders, Belarus’ defense chief said. "As part of bilateral military and military-technical cooperation, measures have been taken to strengthen the combat potential of the regional group of forces," Khrenin said, referring to recent moves to equip them with Iskander M tactical missile systems and the S-400 missile system.
"The activities, both those already implemented and now being planned, further underscore the strategic format of the existing cooperation between our agencies," the Belarusian defense minister underlined. "The Republic of Belarus is set to build up and foster the close cooperation for the security of the Union State in the future, as well," he concluded.
On March 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that, at Minsk’s request, Moscow would deploy its tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, similar to what the United States has long been doing on the territory of its allies. As the Russian leader indicated, the construction of storage facilities for tactical nuclear weapons will be completed in Belarus by July 1.
Moscow has already provided Minsk with Iskander tactical missile systems capable of carrying nuclear weapons and has helped Minsk to re-equip its military aircraft to carry specialized weapons. As well, Belarusian missile crews and pilots have undergone training in Russia.