Belarusian troops have begun training on Russia’s nuclear-capable Iskander missiles after President Vladimir Putin announced he would deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus.
According to Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Belarusians started training on the Iskander systems at a Russian testing ground on April 3. The Belarusian Defense Ministry also announced the training.
“The program will concentrate on further improving their practical skills for preparing the missile system for use while training for its deployment and conducting combat training launches,” the ministry said.
Shoigu first announced in July 2022 that Russia would transfer Iskander missiles to Belarus, but at the time, there were no plans to send nukes to the country. He said Tuesday that Belarus had already received some of the Iskanders.
“The Iskander-M tactical missile system has been transferred to the Belarusian Armed Forces. It is capable of using both conventional and nuclear missiles,” Shoigu said.
Putin announced he was deploying nukes to Belarus in response to the British providing Ukraine with depleted uranium rounds, which are radioactive and linked to birth defects and cancer in Iraq. Putin compared his decision to NATO’s nuclear sharing program, under which US nukes are deployed in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, and Turkey.