Belarus has asked its ally Russia to supply it with Iskander ballistic missile systems capable of carrying nuclear missiles, President Alexander Lukashenko told the Russian National Defense magazine in an interview.
“I need more divisions in the west and the south,” Lukashenko told National Defense, meaning that the missiles are supposed to reinforce Belarus military presence on the borders with NATO member states Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as well as Ukraine, which is also on good terms with NATO.
The Russian-made Iskander tactical ballistic missile with a range of 500 kilometers went into production in 2006. It is capable of carrying a variety of conventional warheads and also nuclear ones. Besides Russia, it is currently in service in two other countries, Armenia and Algeria.
Belarus’s leader, Alexander Lukashenko, has come under international scrutiny in recent weeks as relations with Poland have continued to worsen due to the migrant crisis. The Belarusian president has repeatedly touted strong ties with the Russian president while threatening to shut down the Jamal natural gas pipeline to Europe. Although Putin does not support this endeavor, the president of Belarus has now made another request to Russia.
Although the Kremlin has not officially reacted to Lukashenko’s interview, analysts say Russia is unlikely to add a debate on nuclear weapons to its current diplomatic issues.