MINSK, Belarus. May 29th, 2018. PICTURED: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. PC: MFA Russia. CC 2.0.
MINSK, Belarus. November 30th, 2021. Longtime president of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko has stated that in the event NATO moves nuclear weapons into a country east of Germany, he will invite the Kremlin to station nukes of their own in his country.
Telling reporters that his administration has “carefully preserved” the infrastructure to house and maintain nuclear weapons, without saying which kinds of weapons they would be, since the fall of the Soviet Union.
It’s a move that appears will be unnecessary, as the incoming coalition to rule in Germany have reneged on their campaign platform to seek a swift departure of NATO-sponsored nuclear weapons from German territory, which might have seen them move east into Poland or other NATO countries.
The coalition announced last week that “as long as nuclear weapons play a role in NATO’s strategic concept, Germany has an interest in participating in strategic discussions and planning processes”. The left-wing leader of the SDP in German parliament was quoted in a translated interview as saying that “negotiations should take place in this situation… and maybe we’ll get these things [nuclear weapons] out in the end – preferably as soon as possible”.
On Belarus, Russian foreign policy analyst Alexei Arbatov was quoted by AFP as saying “the situation would be more dangerous than it was during the Cold War times”.
Meanwhile in Ukraine
Faced with the reactions in the West to accusations that Russia is building up forces near the border with Ukraine for a potential invasion early in 2022, the Kremlin has stated that any arming of Ukrainian military as a NATO Strategic Partner is a “red line” for Russia.
Indeed while the last 30 years has seen NATO’s promise made to former-President Gorbachev repeatedly violated as nearly every country on the border with Russia was added to the NATO defense pact, the Kremlin has repeatedly shown that Ukraine is red line; the hill from which it will not retreat.
They aided the defense of ethnic-Russian breakaway regions Donetsk and Luhansk with special forces, and annexed Crimea on separate occasions, but both when the potential of losing influence over the southern neighbor was largest.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a recent meeting in Latvia that Russia would pay a “high price,” economically and politically, if it did start a war in Ukraine.
Speaking at an investment forum, President Vladimir Putin expressed concern that NATO will attempt to exploit Ukraine’s status as a Strategic Partner to deploy missiles capable of reaching Moscow.
“The emergence of such threats represents a ‘red line’ for us,” Putin said. “I hope that it will not get to that and common sense and responsibility for their own countries and the global community will eventually prevail”.
According to Anatol Lieven writing for Responsible Statecraft, Putin said as much during a discussion club meeting in October. “The formal membership [of Ukraine] in NATO may fail to take place, but the military development of the territory is already underway. And this really creates a threat to the Russian Federation,” said the president.
It is Lieven’s hunch that NATO would do nothing militarily even if Ukraine was invaded, an accusation Russia has repeatedly denied over the last two weeks. The U.S. maintains 3 combat brigades in Europe, and only 200 aircraft, far less and farther away besides than what Russia could and probably would mobilize in the event of a land war.