Russia Gives US Nuclear Ultimatim

( – Russian president Vladimir Putin is rattling his nuclear saber again. This time he’s using weapons based in Belarus in an attempt to intimidate the US, claiming America and NATO are deliberately undermining Russia’s security. So far, his threats aren’t working — but he isn’t giving up.

On March 25, Putin announced he’d reached an agreement with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. He compared the move to the US, pointing out that we regularly base similar weapons in the territory of our allies — but Russia hasn’t done this since the end of the Cold War. It’s likely a response to Western support for Ukraine because the new deployment lets tactical missiles like the 9K720 Iskander reach Western European NATO bases.

Now Russian foreign ministry official Alexei Polischuk has hinted at what it would take to get the missiles withdrawn from Belarus. He told state-controlled news agency RIA-Novosti that Russia had deployed the weapons because of the US and NATO’s alleged policy of deliberately “undermining the security of Russia and Belarus.” He didn’t actually say how the West is undermining Russia’s security, but it’s not hard to work out that he’s talking about the support that’s crippled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Polischuk claims the “hypothetical withdrawal” of the weapons is only going to happen if the US and NATO “abandon their destructive course.” Specifically, he said, Russia wants all US nuclear weapons withdrawn to US territory and the infrastructure to support them in Europe dismantled. That’s unlikely to happen because most of NATO, except the UK and France, relies on forward-deployed US weapons as their nuclear deterrent.

The US is keeping a wary eye on Belarus right now. One reason is the possibility that the Belarussian army could join the war in Ukraine, attacking across the country’s northern border to outflank the defenders. The other is Russia’s nuclear weapons. So far, the Pentagon says that, despite Russia’s repeated hints about going nuclear, there’s no sign they actually plan to use weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine.

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