The placement of Russian tactical nuclear weapons on Belarus’s territory is part of a longstanding effort to cement Russia’s de facto military control over the country, the Insitute for the Study of War wrote in its latest assessment on May 25.
It remains “extraordinarily unlikely” that Russian President Vladimir Putin will use the Belarus-based nuclear warheads in Ukraine or elsewhere, according to the report.
“Russia has not yet deployed nuclear weapons to Belarus and their possible deployment is highly unlikely to presage any Russian escalation,” the experts from the ISW estimate.
On May 25, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Belarusian counterpart Viktor Khrenin signed documents on placing Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory.
According to Shoigu, control over the weaponry and decision on its use remains with Moscow.
On the same day, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko claimed that the transfer of tactical weaponry from Russia to Belarus is already underway.
Washington reacted to the move, saying that it sees no reason to change its nuclear threat assessment following the Minsk-Moscow agreement.
“(The United States will) continue to monitor... the implications here. We have not seen any reason to adjust our own nuclear posture — you’ve heard us say that before — nor any indications Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons for Belarus,” the White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Putin threatened that Moscow intends to place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus for training on March 25, the latest in Moscow's series of nuclear threats against Ukraine and the West.