Putin Sells Nuke-Capable Missiles to Ally Belarus

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sold nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Belarus, his ally in the war on Ukraine.

The deadly 9K720 Iskander short-range ballistic missiles are capable of delivering a devastating nuclear payload.

Aleksandr Lukashenko, the president of Belarus who is friendly with Putin, said: "At the very least, this weapon can cause unacceptable, colossal damage."

Lukashenko bought 9K720 Iskander nuclear-capable missiles and S-400 missile systems and says he plans to produce his own by the end of the year.

Belarus buys Iskander missiles from Russia
Belarus bought Iskander and S-400 operational-tactical missile systems from Russia. Ministry of Defense of Russia/Zenger

The 67-year-old Belarusian leader held a meeting with Gleb Nikitin, the head of the Russian region of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, to discuss ordering a "sufficient" number of the missile defense systems.

He also said that they "now have a completely different army" with the Russian missile systems at his disposal.

Lukashenko said: "We made an agreement with Putin. We bought from you a number of these Iskanders and S-400s we needed, and armed our army.

"Now we have a completely different army with such weapons. At the very least, this weapon can cause unacceptable, colossal damage."

He also said that Belarus hopes to start production of these missile systems by the end of the year with the help of Russian weapons experts.

Belarus, Putin's main ally, has been allowing Russian units to use territory bordering with Ukraine as a rear base.

Earlier this month, Lukashenko accused the West of being "at war with Russia" in Ukraine as well as supporting far-right ideas.

Belarusian forces have not been directly involved in the invasion of Ukraine; however, western sanctions have included Russia's main ally.

Belarus gave up the Soviet nuclear weapons that had been stationed there in the 1990s and they were transferred to Russia, leaving it with no weapons of mass destruction, according to the nonpartisan Nuclear Threat Initiative. But it amended its constitution this year to allow Russia to deploy nuclear weapons on its territory.

Lukashenko, dubbed "Europe's last dictator," has been the first and only president of Belarus since July 20, 1994, making him the longest-sitting European leader.

The 9K720 Iskander is a short-range mobile ballistic missile system produced and deployed by the Russian military.

The missile systems were introduced to replace the now obsolete OTR-21 Tochka systems, even though these were still in use by the Russian armed forces as of 2020.

The Iskander can be used with a selection of warheads, including cluster munitions, a few air explosive warheads, a high explosive-fragmentation warhead and an earth penetrator for bunker-busting.

It is built with an electromagnetic pulse device for anti-radar missions and can also carry nuclear warheads.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

Story updated on 05/23/2033 at 1.47 p.m. ET with additional information