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18 Jan, 2024 21:12

European country to add nuclear weapons to defense plan

Now that Belarus is hosting Russian nuclear missiles, it has set out to clarify its position on their usage in a new doctrine
European country to add nuclear weapons to defense plan

A revised defense doctrine will clarify the position of Belarus on the use of Russian nuclear weaponry stationed on its soil, the country’s Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin has said. The Lieutenant General made the remarks on Wednesday as he spoke to reporters after a meeting of the National Security Council.

An update to the country’s defense doctrine has been in the works for months, and the revised document will provide a fresh take on Minsk’s “views regarding peace and war” and the “use of military force to react to existing challenges and threats,” Khrenin said. He added that the new doctrine has “clearly defined and communicated Belarus’ views on the use of tactical nuclear weapons stationed on our territory.”

It was not immediately clear what exactly the document will define with regard to nuclear weaponry, given that control over the munitions remains with Russia.

Moscow stationed nuclear weapons in Belarus last year, following repeated requests from Minsk. The Belarusian leadership cited aggressive Western policies and the perceived threat posed by US nuclear weaponry, hosted by several of Washington’s European allies. Russia, for its part, has signaled that it is ready to use any weaponry at its disposal to protect Belarus, should the latter be attacked.

The new doctrine will also assert that Belarus is a “peaceful” state; at the same time, it will clearly name the threats the country is facing, the minister said.

“We clearly emphasize and say in it that Belarus does not consider any nation as its enemy, despite the actions of their governments. This is the key message, the spirit of the Military Doctrine,” he stressed.

In recent years, Belarus has experienced tensions with its neighbors; its ties with EU member Poland have arguably soured the most. Relations between Warsaw and Minsk started to spiral after the 2020 presidential election in Belarus, which triggered mass protests in the country. The opposition was openly backed by Poland, and by the EU as a whole, with the effort continuing even after its attempt to unseat President Aleksandr Lukashenko ultimately failed.

The ongoing conflict between Russia, a key strategic ally of Belarus, and Ukraine, has further damaged ties between Warsaw and Minsk. Poland reacted angrily to the move to host Russian nukes and has repeatedly accused Belarus of waging hybrid warfare against the country, citing the alleged activities of the Wagner Group, a Russian private military company that ended up re-deployed into Belarus last year, on its border.

Minsk, however, has consistently rejected such allegations, insisting it has never sought to end up in a military conflict against Warsaw.