Russia Shocks the World - Preparing to Launch Small Nuclear Weapons from Belarus

  • Bureau
  • 12:53 PM, May 25, 2023
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Russia Shocks the World - Preparing to Launch Small Nuclear Weapons from Belarus
Russian Short Range Ballistic Missile Syste: 9K720 Iskander-M

Russia today announced that it had entered into an agreement with it ally Belarus, to store tactical nuclear weapons.

These non-strategic nuclear weapons are meant to be launched from the Iskander surface-to-surface missile which has a range of 500 km besides the Su-25 aircraft whose combat radius is 357 km.

Small tactical nuclear weapons are also called 'dirty nukes' due to their capability to cause maximum destruction within their target radius- not just military targets but also humans, animals and buildings.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a briefing today, "work has been organized to deploy non-strategic nuclear weapons of the Russian Federation on the territory of the Republic of Belarus."

The Russian Defense Minister said: "In the future, additional measures may be taken to ensure the security of the Union State and respond to the military-political situation."

The minister's statement could indicate that Russia is preparing for the ultimate deterrence- that it will launch nuclear weapons should the existence of the Russian state be threatened.

According to him, the Iskander-M operational-tactical missile system, capable of launching nuclear weapon-tipped missiles, was handed over to Belarus earlier.

"Some of the Belarusian planes (Su-25s) have been converted for the possible use of nuclear weapons. Their servicemen have received appropriate training," Shoigu said.

Shoigu warned that further steps could be taken to protect the countries’ collective security. He underlined that Moscow “is not giving nuclear weapons to Belarus” and that control over their use and deployment remains “in the hands” of Russia.

Russia moved nukes near border: Ukraine

Andrii Yusov, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine, said two days ago that Moscow transported nuclear weapons out of the Belgorod-22 facility in the region as people quickly evacuated the building, according to Ukrainian media.

Russia Shocks the World - Preparing to Launch Small Nuclear Weapons from Belarus
Sukhoi Su-25 jet

What is the West’s response?

Former CIA director and retired four-star army general David Petraeus warned back in October that the U.S. and its allies would destroy Russia’s troops and equipment in Ukraine – as well as sink its Black Sea fleet – if it uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Petraeus acknowledged that the likelihood that radiation would extend to NATO countries could perhaps be construed as an attack on a NATO member.

Responding to a query on nuclear use by Russia, U.S. President Joe Biden said around the same time that “it would be irresponsible for me to talk about what we would or wouldn’t do.”

Leaders of G7 states (the U.K., Germany, Italy, Canada, the U.S., France, and Japan) said, "We deplore deliberate Russian escalator steps, including the partial mobilization of reservists and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, which is putting global peace and security at risk. We reaffirm that any use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons by Russia would be met with severe consequences."

Damage caused by small nuclear weapons

The most recent public U.S. intelligence estimates estimate Russia has up to 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons in its stockpiles. The U.S., on the other hand, has slightly more than 200.

At the beginning of 2023, the U.S. Department of Defense maintained an estimated stockpile of approximately 3,708 nuclear warheads for delivery by ballistic missiles and aircraft, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences.

Russia Shocks the World - Preparing to Launch Small Nuclear Weapons from Belarus
Unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launch

U.S. has Minuteman III ICBMs as well as Trident II D5 missiles armed by Ohio-class submarines.

Tactical nuclear weapons are sometimes referred to as "small nukes," even though they still cause devastating fatalities and destruction. Number of nuclear warheads includes both strategic and tactical.

Small nukes are designed for limited strikes against relatively close specific targets, like command posts, instead of destroying cities from afar.

The explosive yield of tactical nuclear weapons can range from 1-100 kilotons, whereas strategic nuclear weapons can have a yield up to 1,000 kilotons. The bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 were between 12 and 21 kilotons.

Even a single nuclear weapon can destroy a city and kill most of its people. It would also cause all the horrors of Hiroshima, albeit on a smaller scale. A tactical nuclear weapon would produce a fireball, shock waves, and deadly radiation that would cause long-term health damage in survivors. Radioactive fallout would contaminate air, soil, water and the food supply.

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