Putin promises Belarusian Iskander-M missiles to counter “aggressive” West

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

Mikhail Metzel | AFP | Getty Images

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

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

He called on Putin to help Belarus find a “symmetrical response” to what he says is nuclear-armed flights by the US-led NATO alliance near the Belarusian border.

“Minsk must be ready for anything, even to use serious weapons to defend our motherland from Brest to Vladivostok,” he said, uniting Belarus and its close ally Russia.

In particular, he asked for help to make the Belarusian military aircraft nuclear-capable.

Putin said he sees no need for a symmetric response right now, but Belarus’ Russian-built Su-25 jets could be upgraded at Russian factories if needed.

However, he promised to supply the Iskander-M, a mobile guided missile system codenamed “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 increased since Moscow deployed troops to Ukraine four months ago, including claims that NATO planned to absorb Ukraine and use it as a platform to threaten Russia.

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

Over the past week, Lithuania in particular has infuriated Russia by blocking the transit of goods subject to European sanctions moving through its territory from Russia via Belarus to Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.

Russia has called it a “blockade,” but Lithuania says it affects just 1% of normal transit of goods on the route and that passenger traffic is unaffected.

Disclosure: This content was produced in Russia, where law restricts reporting on Russian military operations in Ukraine.

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/25/putin-promises-belarus-iskander-m-missiles-to-counter-aggressive-west.html Putin promises Belarusian Iskander-M missiles to counter “aggressive” West

Joshua Buckhalter

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