Belarus' Nuclear Ambiguity: Exploring A New Doctrine In The Shadows

On Friday, Belarus introduced a new military doctrine that, if approved, would signify the commencement of the nation’s deployment of nuclear weapons. Belarus, a close ally of Russia, is set to present a new military policy on Tuesday that for the first time permits the use of nuclear weapons, according to the minister of defense. Uncertainty surrounds the quantity of tactical nuclear weapons that Russia transferred to Belarus last year. Russia has said that it will continue to be in charge of those weapons, which are meant to be used in combat and have relatively low yields and limited ranges. The All-Belarusian People’s Assembly, a representative body that functions in tandem with the parliament in Belarus, is to be presented with the doctrine for ratification.


When Belarus was a member of the Soviet Union, it possessed both tactical and long-range nuclear weapons, which it later ceded to Russia following the fall of the USSR. On February 24, 2022, Russia sent soldiers into Ukraine using Belarusian land as a launching pad. Although Belarusian forces have not participated in the conflict, Russia has maintained its military stations and armaments there. 

A broad alliance between Belarus and Russia is established legally by the Union State of Belarus and Russia Treaty. A new military policy that Belarus has established allows for the use of nuclear weapons in the event if the republic is attacked militarily. 

Following its independence, Belarus inherited a modest nuclear arsenal from the Soviet Union, which included a few dozen 12,500-kilometer-range RT-2PM Topol intercontinental ballistic missiles and an unidentified type of tactical nuclear bomb. Even though Minsk finally carried out the plan to return the weapons to Russia, Washington was concerned that President Lukashenko, who was still serving as president at the time, would sabotage the plan and try to keep some of the weapons. This fear was expressed in a piece that appeared in The New York Times on October 12, 1996. 

Also read: Europe and NATO’s Shame Over Syria and Turkey

Official Statements

According to Belarus Security Council Secretary Alexander Volfovich, Poland, a NATO member, is the target of Poland’s aggression, which is why Russia has placed nuclear weapons in Belarus. He stated, “Unfortunately, remarks made by our neighbors, especially Poland, forced us to strengthen” the military policy. Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin of Belarus stated at a briefing that “the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of the Republic of Belarus is considered an important measure of the preventive deterrence for potential adversaries from unleashing armed aggression against the Republic of Belarus.” He went on to say that Belarus had been forced to implement the action. This assembly is scheduled to meet in April. Restoring the influence of international security organizations such as the UN, OSCE and others, and their effective functioning in preventing and resolving armed conflicts, according to Khrenin, is in the best interests of his administration. As long as their hostile rhetoric against Belarus stops, Belarus “is open to cooperation in the military sphere with any countries, including NATO states,” he declared.

Strategic Autonomy

Although Belarus’ nuclear deterrent will not be entirely independent, rather, it will fall under Moscow’s use policy. It should be made clear by the Belarusian doctrine under what circumstances Minsk( capital of Belarus)  considers a security threat to be serious enough to warrant the use of nuclear weapons. Since last year, President Lukashenko has given many interviews to state media in Belarus and Russia, expressing his opinions on the weaponry in his trademark bombastic manner and offering some guidance for the final policy. 

President Lukashenko declared in a declaration in March 2023 that Warsaw was allegedly planning an invasion of his nation and that, in the event that this happened, Belarus would use all of its resources, including nuclear weapons, to defend itself. Truck, rail, and air transportation of troops and supplies is handled by the Belarusian Transport Troops. 

It is also intended to handle the responsibilities of providing military units from other service branches with transport assistance. The Head of the Transport Support Department, who answers directly to the President, has direct supervision, while the Minister of Defense exercises general leadership. Special forces are intended to assist Ground Forces in their combat operations and carry out their inherent responsibilities. 

These comprise intelligence, communications, engineering, radiation, chemical and biological defense, electronic warfare, navigation, and topographic units, among other formations and military units.

International Reaction

Establishing a nuclear weapons base in Belarus gives Russia additional coverage of the Baltics, Poland, the Czech Republic, Finland, and Russia’s Iskanders currently stationed in Kaliningrad and Pskov. It also opens up new avenues for short-range nuclear attack against U.S. allies, such as Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova, and Ukraine. 

Naturally, Belarus would seem to be breaking its own constitution since it is presently supporting Russia in its “military aggression” against Ukraine. The weapons, which are intended for use in combat and have lower yields than strategic nuclear warheads carried by long-range missiles, are under Russian control, as the country has stated. The global community demonstrated a prudent response to Belarus’ recent military weapons campaign.

Wrap Up

Keeping all these recent developments in mind, the UN and other world organizations should play their role to ease the intension. Caution should be exercised in NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe, with a stipulation for Russia to reciprocate by withdrawing tactical weapons from Belarus. The ramifications of Belarus’s recently unveiled nuclear doctrine remain uncertain, and its implications will become clearer as further developments emerge.

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