What does Russia’s deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus consist of?

What does Russia’s deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus consist of?

Russia has announced an agreement with Belarus for the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory, a country bordering Poland. According to the Kremlin, such a move would not violate nuclear nonproliferation agreements. The fact is that these types of weapons have never been included in the nuclear arms control pacts.

“We agreed with Lukashenko that. We would place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus without violating the regime. nonproliferation regime,” Tass quoted President Vladimir Putin as saying. We don’t give them up. The United States does not cede them to its allies either. In principle, we do the same as they did for decades,” Putin assured public television.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko.

Although the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, has long raised the issue of stationing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, the Russian announcement comes in response to the UK’s decision to deliver depleted uranium ammunition to the Ukrainian Army.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, once signed by the Soviet Union, states that no nuclear power may transfer nuclear weapons or technology to a non-nuclear power. However, the pact allows weapons to be deployed outside its borders but under its control.. That is what is happening and Putin points out with US nuclear weapons in Europe.

What are tactical nuclear weapons

They are used for specific tactical benefits on the battlefield, rather than, for example, to destroy larger cities. The most widespread academic definition is that they are. bombs of between 1 and 50 kilotons installed in projectiles with a range of up to 500 kilometers.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a file image.

Tactical nuclear weapons are much more destructive than a conventional warhead even though they have the same explosive energy and provoke a radiation contamination affecting air, soil, water and the food chain.

How many Russia has

It is not easy to pinpoint how many strategic nuclear weapons Russia has because the matter is still shrouded in the old Cold War secrecy, but it does appear that it has a huge superiority over the US and its NATO allies. The Pentagon believes that Russia has some 2,000 tactical warheads. of this type in operation, ten times more than the Americans.

They can be launched from naval, air or ground forces, via missiles, torpedoes and gravity bombs. They can even be simply driven into an area and detonated. They are mostly primed for use in air-to-ground missiles, short-range ballistic missiles, gravity bombs, and depth charges carried by medium-range tactical bombers or by anti-ship or anti-submarine torpedoes.

Josep Borrell during a session on the Ukrainian war in the European Parliament.

Washington, on the other hand, has only about 200 such weapons at its disposal, the half of them at European bases. These B61 nuclear bombs have different yields from 0.3 to 170 kilotons (the Hiroshima bomb in 1945 was 15 kilotons). All these warheads are deployed at six air bases in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands.

USSR deployment returned

When the USSR collapsed in 1991, in addition to Russian territory, there were Soviet nuclear weapons stationed in Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.. The US made enormous efforts to return this arsenal to Russia.

Since the weapons had been returned in the early 1990s, Russia had not conducted any nuclear weapons deployments outside its borders. Putin’s announcement to do so in Belarus is the first, but it would not contravene the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which does allow weapons to be placed outside its borders but under its control.

Deterrent capability.

According to Russian nuclear doctrine, the President ultimately decides on the use of nuclear weapons. Russian strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons. It is likely that Putin consulted with senior allies in the Russian Security Council before ordering, through the General Staff, a warhead to be attached to a delivery vehicle and preparing for a possible launch order.

This is what depleted uranium projectiles look like.

“Large-scale nuclear attacks are considered unfeasible. The Strategic nuclear weapons are losing their value deterrence in a war between nuclear powers. Tactical nuclear weapons are more likely to be used, in theory, so their possession would strengthen a country’s deterrence,” says Nina Srinivasan Rathbun, professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California (USA).

Military utility, in question

But the military utility of strategic nuclear weapons is in question, since. conventional explosive bombs are becoming increasingly powerful.. Thus, France and the UK have eliminated them from their tactical arsenals and the US has reduced their number, reports Europa Press. According to US military studies, it would be necessary to detonate a one-kiloton tactical nuclear bomb within 90 meters of a battle tank to cause serious damage.

It is a hydrogen fusion bomb.
Tsar Bomba, a hydrogen fusion bomb.

However, the use of Russian nuclear weapons in Ukraine does not seem very logical. “I think it would not achieve any military objective. It would contaminate territory that Russia considers part of its historical empire and would probably affect Russian territory itself. It would increase the chances of direct NATO intervention and destroy Russia’s image in the world,” Rathbun believes.

It is a hydrogen fusion bomb.

Hence its deployment in Belarus. has more to do with the Tsar Bombaa hydrogen bomb developed by the Soviet Union and detonated in the Barents Sea. It had more than 50 megatons of power and its size made it of little use at the war level, but it fulfilled its function at the propaganda level.

Kayleigh Williams