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March 16, 2024 (EIRNS)—Hans Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project of the Federation of American Scientists and co-author Matt Korda, in their latest posting on the FAS website, report that a military depot in central Belarus has recently been upgraded with additional security perimeters and an access point that indicate it could be intended for housing Russian nuclear warheads for Belarus’s Russia-supplied Iskander missile launchers. The upgraded enclosure is located inside an existing military depot east of the town of Ashipovichy. These upgrades, they say, would more closely resemble the level of physical protection that Russian authorities would require for storage of nuclear weapons.

But Kristensen and Korda do not say that Russia has actually moved nuclear warheads into Belarus, only that the evidence shows that security measures for their storage have been upgraded to Russian standards. They say that moving warheads into Belarus does not give Russia any military advantage. “Russia already maintains modernized nuclear storage facilities in Kaliningrad and has long had the ability to target NATO countries with nuclear weapons,” they write. “Instead, the deployment appears designed to unnerve NATO’s eastern-most member states and highlight Russia’s status as a nuclear power.”

Rose Gottemoeller, a former top U.S. arms control envoy and deputy secretary-general of NATO, is quoted to the same effect in a March 14 article in Foreign Policy cited by Kristensen and Korda. “The Russians can reach any place in NATO with nuclear missiles with what they have on their own territory,” she said. “It does not change the threat environment at all. So it is purely a political message.”

That same Foreign Policy article also cites Arvydas Anusauskas, Lithuania’s Defense Minister, as “confirming” that Russia has moved nuclear warheads into Belarus and warning that the risks of Western inaction were high, citing the lackluster response in the West to Russia moving more nuclear weapons to the Kaliningrad Peninsula, which is bounded by Poland and Lithuania on either side. “We would like to see a harder response on that,” Anusauskas said. “If Russians move nuclear weapons closer to us, we need to move as well.”