Russia said Saturday it planned to send nuclear-grade missiles to Belarus within months, signaling a boldness as it made gains in Ukraine’s eastern regions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin made the promise in a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has publicly supported Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. “We will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” he said, according to Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency. “It's a deal.”
Putin also promised to help upgrade some of Belarus’ aircraft to support the nuclear missiles.
The Russian president’s potentially deadly declaration coincided with the weekend’s G7 summit of world leaders in Germany, where Putin remained a pariah. In Germany, leaders from the U.S., the U.K., and other nations debated further punishments for Russia over Putin’s war.
“The main message from the G7 will be unity and coordination of action… That’s the main message, that even through difficult times… we stick to our alliance,” an EU official told The Guardian.
The announcement also came days after Russian forces pushed out Ukrainian troops from the city of Lysychansk, part of its effort to claim territories along Ukraine’s eastern regions, according to the Associated Press. Ukraine said it hoped to push back against the aggression with newly acquired weapon systems from the U.S.
“Summer will be hot for Russian occupiers,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted Thursday. “And the last one for some of them.”