Nuclear promise: Vladimir Putin promises Belarus missiles to counter NATO
- Vladimir Putin met his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday
- Putin promised nuclear capable missiles to Belarus
- Belarus has complained of 'aggressive' posturing by NATO members
Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured Belarus that Moscow would supply it with missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
According to the Russian foreign ministry, Putin met his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in St Petersburg on Saturday, a meeting which was partly televised.
Lukashenko accused NATO of carrying out flights with nuclear weapons near Belarusian borders and asked Putin for help in mounting a "symmetrical" response.
The Russian president then went on to say that there was no need to mount any symmetrical response at the moment, but said that if need be, Moscow would upgrade Belarus' Su-25 jets.
"Minsk must be ready for anything, even the use of serious weaponry to defend our fatherland from Brest to Vladivostok," a foreign ministry summary quoted Lukashenko as saying.
Lukashenko also went on to ask for help in upgrading Belarus' jets in particular.
"We will transfer Iskander-M tactical missile systems to Belarus, which can use both ballistic and cruise missiles, both in conventional and nuclear versions," was Putin's response to the Belarusian president.
For those unaware, Iskander-M, codenamed SS-26 Stone by NATO, is a mobile guided tactical missile capable of striking targets at ranges of up to 500 kilometres.
The development comes at a time when Lithuania has irritated Russia by blocking the transit of goods subject to sanctions through its own territory, a move that prevents Moscow from moving certain goods through Belarus to its Baltic enclave of Kalinigrad.
Although Russia has described it as a "blockade," Lithuania claims only 1% of normal goods transit along the route has been affected, while passenger traffic has not been affected at all.