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Russia sends Belarus nuclear-capable missiles within months as G7 leaders gather in Germany | Ukraine

Written by Javed Iqbal

Russia will deliver missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to Belarus in the coming months, President Vladimir Putin said when he received the Belarusian leader. Alexander Lukashenko.

“In the coming months, we will move on Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic missiles or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions, “Putin said in a broadcast on Russian television at the beginning of his meeting with Lukashenko in St. Petersburg. Petersburg Saturday.

Putin has repeatedly referred to nuclear weapons since his country launched a military operation in Ukraine on February 24, in what the West has seen as a warning not to intervene. Lukashenko said last month that his country had purchased Iskander nuclear-compatible missiles and S-400 anti-aircraft anti-missile systems from Russia.

The development came on the threshold of a meeting between G7 leaders in Germany Sunday, when Chancellor Olaf Scholz hosts the Bavarian Alps, which are to be dominated by Ukraine and its far-reaching consequences, from energy shortages to a food crisis.

G7 leaders are expected to seek to show a united front in terms of support Ukraine as long as necessary and increase pressure on the Kremlin – although they will avoid sanctions that could boost inflation and exacerbate the global cost of living crisis.

“The main message of the G7 will be unity and coordination of actions … It is the main message that even through difficult times … we will stick to our alliance,” said an EU official.

G7 partners are set to agree to ban gold imports from Russia, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. A German government source later said leaders had “really constructive” talks about a possible price cap on Russian oil imports.

This year, Scholz invited as partner countries Senegal, the current President of the African Union, Argentina, who heads the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Indonesia and India, the current and next hosts of the G20 Group of Major Industrial Nations, and South Africa.

“The summit must not only send the message that NATO and the G7 are more united than ever, but also that the world democracies stand together against Putin’s imperialism, just as they do in the fight against hunger and poverty,” Scholz told the German. Parliament this week.

Women ride scooters through Kyiv's Maidan Square, past sandbags printing
Women ride scooters through Kyiv’s Maidan Square, past sandbags printing “HELP” on Saturday. Photo: Nariman El-Mofty / AP

Putin also offered to upgrade Belarus’ warplanes to enable them to carry nuclear weapons, amid soaring tensions with the West over Ukraine.

“Many Su-25 [aircraft] is in the service of the Belarusian military. They could be upgraded appropriately, ”said the Russian leader. “This modernization should be carried out at aircraft factories in Russia, and the training of personnel should start accordingly,” he added after Lukashenko asked him to “adapt” the aircraft.

“We will agree on how to achieve this,” Putin said.

During the meeting, Lukashenko expressed concern over the “aggressive”, “confrontational” and “repulsive” policies of its neighbors Lithuania and Poland, and asked Putin to help Belarus with a “symmetrical response” to what he said were NATO nuclear-armed flights near by. . Borders of Belarus. Putin said he did not see a need for a symmetrical response at this time.

Iskander-M, a mobile-controlled missile system codenamed “SS-26 Stone” by NATO, replaced the Soviet Scud missile. Its two guided missiles have a range of up to 500 km (300 miles) and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.

In the past week, Lithuania in particular has angered Russia by blocking the transit of goods subject to European sanctions, which travel across the country from Russia, through Belarus, to Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.

Russia has described it as a “blockade”, but Lithuania says it affects only 1% of normal goods in transit on the route and that passenger traffic is unaffected.

With Agence France-Presse and Reuters

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Javed Iqbal

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