‘Crazy Dictator’ in Belarus Now Controls Russian Nuclear Weapons

Alexander Lukashenko next to a Nuclear Missile

In a bold statement to BBC News, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the exiled leader of the Belarusian opposition, expressed her deep concern over the Western world’s silence regarding Russia’s recent deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. Tikhanovskaya warned that these powerful missiles and bombs were now under the control of what she called “a crazy dictator.”

The alarm bells rang after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko proudly declared on Tuesday that his country had begun receiving Moscow’s tactical warheads as part of a bilateral agreement between the two nations. Lukashenko’s proclamation took place in a forest clearing, flanked by military vehicles and a visible military storage facility, painting a grim picture of the situation.

This deployment marks the first instance of Russia stationing short-range warheads outside its own borders since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. While the Kremlin will maintain control over these tactical nuclear weapons, Lukashenko dismissed any concerns about their usage, claiming that he and President Putin could communicate instantly if the need arose.

Although the United States criticized Putin’s decision to deploy these warheads in Belarus, it maintained that it had no intention of altering its stance on strategic nuclear weapons. Furthermore, there were no indications that Russia was preparing to utilize nuclear weaponry, according to US officials.

However, Tikhanovskaya vehemently disagreed with the Western perspective, accusing the US and other NATO members of underestimating the significance of the warhead transfer to Belarus. She argued that while NATO countries may not perceive an immediate threat, the deployment posed a grave concern for the people of Belarus, who desire to live without the presence of nuclear weapons in their homeland.

“The silence of the West on this matter is deeply troubling,” Tikhanovskaya expressed. “Belarus is our country, and we do not want nuclear weapons. This development represents a critical step toward preserving our independence, and it is disheartening that they choose to remain silent.”

The US estimates that Russia possesses approximately 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons, more than any other country. These armaments include bombs deployable by aircraft, warheads for short-range missiles, and artillery rounds. Unlike the high-yield nuclear warheads fitted on long-range strategic missiles, tactical nuclear weapons have a lower destructive capacity but can still cause significant damage.

Lukashenko, a long-standing ally of Vladimir Putin and a leader who has allowed his country to support Russian forces in the aggression against Ukraine, asserts that the nuclear deployment will serve as a deterrent against potential Western aggressors. Given that Belarus shares borders with three NATO member countries—Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland—Lukashenko suggests that this move is necessary to safeguard his nation’s sovereignty.

Having ruled Belarus since 1994, Lukashenko is the longest-serving leader in Europe. He emphasized that his request for the weapons was not a mere ask but a demand. In his view, Belarus has long been a target of Western influence and interference, particularly since the protests against his authoritarian regime erupted in 2020 following a disputed presidential election. Lukashenko accuses the West of plotting to remove him from power.

Meanwhile, Tikhanovskaya, widely believed to have emerged victorious in the election, was forced to flee Belarus and seek refuge in exile with her children. In a court ruling held in her absence, she was convicted of treason and conspiracy to seize power, leading to a 15-year sentence.

As the situation unfolds, the global community must grapple with the implications of Russia’s deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. The concerns raised by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya underscore the urgent need for open dialogue, diplomatic efforts, and international cooperation to address this delicate and potentially destabilizing development in Eastern Europe.

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