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Russia and Belarus Conduct Tactical Nuclear Weapons Drills Amid Tensions with West

Russia and Belarus have commenced the second stage of joint drills focused on tactical nuclear weapons, aimed at bolstering readiness and deterring Western support for Ukraine. These exercises, initiated by Moscow in response to perceived provocations from Western officials, underline the Kremlin’s strategic stance amid heightened tensions.

Background and Purpose of Drills

The drills, announced last month by Russia’s Defence Ministry, are a direct response to what Russian authorities describe as provocative actions and statements from the United States and its European allies. The first phase concentrated on nuclear mission preparation and deployment logistics, while the current exercises involve training in the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons in combat scenarios.

Strategic Importance and Context

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warnings about potential nuclear use have escalated since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. These drills, involving Belarus as a staging ground, reflect a joint effort to ensure military preparedness and safeguard the sovereignty of their alliance. The decision to move tactical nuclear weapons into Belarus underscores the strategic positioning in relation to Ukraine and neighboring NATO states.

International Reaction and Putin’s Statements

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov highlighted the tense European security environment, emphasizing the drills as a response to hostile decisions and provocations by Western powers. Putin’s recent declarations challenging assumptions about Russia’s nuclear policy further emphasize the seriousness with which Moscow views its defensive capabilities.

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