Putin promises Belarusian Iskander-M missiles to counter ‘aggressive’ West

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Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via teleconference in Moscow on June 22, 2022.

Mikhail Metzel | AFP | Getty Images

Russia will supply Belarus with Iskander-M missile systems within months, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday during a televised meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

At the meeting, held in St. Petersburg, Lukashenko told Putin that Belarus was concerned about the “aggressive”, “confrontational” and “repulsive” policies of its neighbors Lithuania and Poland.

He asked Putin to help Belarus mount a “symmetrical response” to what he said were nuclear flights by the US-led NATO alliance near Belarus’ borders.

“Minsk must be ready for anything, even the use of serious weapons to defend our homeland from Brest to Vladivostok,” he said, putting Belarus and its close ally Russia under one umbrella.

In particular, he asked for help in making the Belarusian military aircraft nuclear-capable.

Putin said he did not see the need for a symmetrical response at this time, but that Belarus’ Russian-made Su-25 planes could be retrofitted at Russian factories if necessary.

It did, however, promise to supply the Iskander-M, a mobile guided missile system named “SS-26 Stone” by NATO, which replaced the Soviet “Scud”. Its two guided missiles have a range of up to 500 km (300 miles) and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.

Tensions between Russia and the West have skyrocketed since Moscow sent troops to Ukraine four months ago, alleging among other things that NATO planned to admit Ukraine and use it as a platform. form to threaten Russia.

Russia’s move not only triggered a barrage of Western sanctions, but also prompted Sweden and Russia’s northern neighbor Finland to apply to join the Western alliance.

Last week, Lithuania in particular infuriated Russia by blocking the transit of EU-sanctioned goods traveling through its territory from Russia, via Belarus, to the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.

Russia has called it a “blockade”, but Lithuania says it only affects 1% of normal freight transit on the road and passenger traffic is unaffected.

Disclosure: This content was produced in Russia, where the law limits coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.

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