During Putin’s first trip to Belarus in more than three years, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko finally agreed on many military and economic issues on December 19.
According to the official Belarusian news agency BelTA, the two countries’ agreement also includes training Belarusian pilots to fly combat aircraft with “special nuclear warheads.”
The Russian President claimed that the United States has been applying similar measures with its NATO allies for decades.
Russia and Belarus said earlier this year that they wanted to change Belarusian Su-24s so that they could carry nuclear weapons. Lukashenko says that Russian instructors have been teaching Belarusian pilots how to fly the modified planes that can carry special warheads, a reference to nuclear weapons.
Lukashenko thanked Putin for giving his troops S-400 air defence systems and Iskander short-range missiles. He also said that both countries agreed to keep doing military drills together.
“Today, we have commissioned an S-400 [air defense missile] complex that you have delivered to Belarus. And what is most important, the Iskander complex, which you have also handed over to us after promising it to us half a year ago,” Lukashenko said, according to BelTa.
On December 19, the two leaders also talked about making a common defensive space and about security and working together within the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) framework.
Putin stated that coordinated military plans are being developed in the Belarusian-Russian Union State and the regional military force is active, BelTA reported.
The Belarusian and Russian armed forces are training for battle on Belarusian land. A system of air defence that works together has been built and is now in use.
The Russian President also noted that the parties had reached an understanding that they would continue to work together to take all necessary measures to ensure adequate security, give priority to training troops and improving their combat readiness, and continue the practice of routine joint military exercises and mutual arms shipments.
For his side, Lukashenko needs assistance for his country’s faltering economy. Putin’s trip to Minsk was atypical, as he typically hosts Lukashenko in Russia.
According to analysts, the Russian government could request military assistance from Belarus for its activities in Ukraine.
The Institute for the Study of Warfare, a Washington-based think tank, says a major Russian attack is unlikely anytime soon due to winter conditions and depleting Russian resource reserves.
Putin’s mission to Minsk raises concerns.
The commander of the Ukrainian army, General Valeriy Zaluzhny, warned last week about a possible new Russian invasion from Belarus.
However, US officials have rejected this proposal for a variety of reasons. Russia’s troops, equipment, and ammunition have been depleted after nearly ten months of an all-out attack against Ukraine.
Throughout the conflict, Russia has launched piloted aircraft and drone operations from Belarus against Ukrainian cities. But Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov shot down Monday’s rumors that Putin and Lukashenko were planning a new military assault from Belarus.
According to the Russian state media outlet Telegram, Peskov instructed Zaluzhny to “relax” after he claimed that Moscow and Minsk were plotting a synchronized operation.
Russia launched a new wave of drone strikes against Ukraine, aimed at the capital city’s electrical infrastructure, just hours before Putin’s visit to see his close buddy Lukashenko.
According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, Russia launched thirty-five Shahed-136 and Shahed-131 drones from the eastern section of the Azov Sea. Ukrainian anti-aircraft defence systems, fighter jets, and mobile fire units shot down thirty.
Although Ukraine frequently claims it has shot down drones, some of them could continue to disrupt power. After Moscow’s morning attacks on the capital and damage to infrastructure facilities, utility employees had already restored the functionality of most boilers, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko declared on his Telegram channel on December 19.
“About 3% of consumers are still without heating. The capital’s water supply system works normally,” Klitschko added. Ukrainian officials recently claimed that the Russian Federation has resumed attacks on Ukraine with Iranian Shahed kamikaze drones due to a new batch but deploys them more selectively.