Russia to deliver nuclear-capable short-range missiles to Belarus
- De acuerdo con los tratados internacionales, los misiles de corto alcance llegan hasta los 500 kilómetros (300 millas), los de medio alcance hasta los 5.000 kilómetros (3.000 millas) y los de largo alcance o intercontinentales más de 5.000 kilómetros hasta cualquier punto del globo terrestre
Russian President Vladimir Putin received his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg on Saturday, pressing him to accept the installation on his territory of Iskander-M short-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
“In the coming months we are going to deliver to Belarus the Iskander-M tactical systems, which, as is known, can employ ballistic and cruise missiles, both in the usual and nuclear configuration,” Putin said, according to the official Russian press.
These missiles have a range of up to 486 kilometers, enough to hit Ukraine or one of Belarus’ neighboring countries, but never to reach any Western European country.
Putin has stressed the need to ensure the security of all members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, comprising Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia and Belarus.
Putin has argued that the United States has deployed two hundred tactical nuclear warheads, mostly atomic bombs, in the six European NATO member countries and some 257 aircraft are prepared for their potential use.
“Europe would be reduced to ashes in a nuclear war with Russia,” Putin has warned, who has nevertheless argued that for the time being “there is no need” to give a symmetrical response to NATO aviation flights with nuclear weapons near Belarusian borders, as Lukashenko has requested.
The Russian leader did propose to modernize the outdated Su-25 aircraft of the Belarusian forces and to start the process of pilot training. Lukashenko had asked Putin that Russia help Belarus “at least to adjust” the planes they have at their disposal capable of carrying nuclear warheads because “one cannot joke with these NATO actions”.
Doubts about Russian missile stockpiles
Although these announcements have an immediate propaganda effect, it is not clear that Russia is currently in a position to deliver a significant quantity of missiles to Belarus because its own stocks are being rapidly depleted during the invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s stockpile of medium-range cruise missiles was estimated at about 3,500 units before the war and according to publicly available reports, about 2,000 missiles have so far been launched against Ukrainian targets. In fact it is clear that all kinds of Soviet-era missiles have been launching, even some have been adapted because they were naval missiles that were not originally intended for ground attack.
It is also unclear whether the Soviet military industry has its own technology and sufficient stocks of components to manufacture new missiles in significant quantities to replenish the units launched in the four months so far of fighting in Ukraine.
It is even more difficult to unravel the state of the Russian nuclear arsenal, which came from the former USSR and whose maintenance may have been as disastrous as that of the planes or ships that have been destroyed in this war.
In any case, one must be able to read between the lines of the message to realize that in reality it says that “in a few months” (between three and three hundred months) Belarus will be given some medium range missiles (between two and twenty thousand) which if they were in Russian hands could carry nuclear warheads but which surely will not because Putin does not trust the dictator Lukasheko to continue subjecting his people, as was seen a year ago, when the popular revolts almost succeeded in deposing him.
What does the Iskander-M missile look like?
Iskander-M missiles have a range of up to 500 kilometers and the capability to carry nuclear warheads. They are the heirs of the Soviet Tochka-U missiles.
The Iskander-M is a mobile ballistic missile system, which NATO calls the “SS-26 Stone”. It is the replacement for the Soviet Scud missile, which was mainly used during the Cold War.
Designed to confuse anti-missile defenses, it exceeds seven times the speed of sound, flies on a low trajectory and maneuvers in flight to engage targets. They are carried and launched from a vehicle that can hold up to two missiles, and can launch them less than a minute apart.
The missiles can fire nuclear warheads and have a range of up to 486 kilometers, with an accuracy of between two to five meters. They are about 7.3 meters long and almost one meter in diameter (0.92) and weigh between 3,800 and 4,200 kilograms. The warhead weighs about 480 kilometers.
Likewise, it does not violate the INF treaty, signed between the USSR and the USA in 1987 to prohibit those whose operational range is between 500 and 5,000 kilometers.
They can carry nuclear warheads, thermobaric, explosive fragmentation, penetration and electromagnetic pulse bombs.
They were first used in combat in Georgia in 2008. The Kremlin announced it would deploy them in Kaliningrad province in 2015, in response to another deployment by the United States.