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Belarus to join second phase of nuclear exercises with Russia

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko deliver a joint media statement following their talks at the Independence Palace in Minsk on May 24, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Belarus is set to participate in the second phase of nuclear exercises with Russia, in an attempt to confront the Western plots to drag Minsk into a war, according to the eastern European country's defense ministry.

Military officials in Minsk said on Monday its army was taking part in the second stage of Russian exercises ordered by President Vladimir Putin to practice the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons.

The nuclear exercises are a reaction to “unsuccessful attempts to drag [Belarus] into an epidemic of color revolutions and crush us with economic sanctions” and some Western countries' “plans to use military force against our state,” Belarusian Defense Minister Lieutenant General Viktor Khrenin said in a post on Telegram.

It’s the second time Belarus and Russia practice deploying nuclear weapons together, after Putin ordered the first phase of the drills to take place in southern Russia last month.

Nuclear analysts described the drills as a warning signal by Putin to the US-led Western countries to avoid an escalation of the war in Ukraine.

The nuclear exercises are a proactive measure to “increase our readiness to use so-called retaliatory weapons,” Khrenin said.

“Now, more than ever before, we are determined to respond to any threats posed to both our country and the Union State” between Russia and Belarus, he added.

He did not say where the exercises were taking place or what types of weapons were involved. Belarus shares borders with three NATO countries - Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

“We have no goal of creating any tension in regional security issues. We do not project relevant military threats on third countries or anyone else,” Khrenin added.

Khrenin pointed out that despite being a peaceful country, Belarus still needed to maintain its military forces combat-readiness. “We are a peaceful state, we do not threaten or seek confrontation with anyone, but we will keep our powder dry!”

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko announced last year that Russia was moving some of its tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus.

Tactical nuclear weapons are designed for use on the battlefield, as opposed to long-range strategic weapons intended to wipe out entire enemy cities in apocalyptic proportions.

Nuclear analysts believe the probable use of tactical nuclear weapons on Ukraine could deliver a stunning shock to the West without posing an imminent risk of moving the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight.

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