Belarus says in autonomous control of Russian Iskander Missiles
The Belarusian defense ministry has announced that the country is now in autonomous control of nuclear-capable Iskander mobile-guided missiles supplied by Russia.
The development was revealed after Belarusian soldiers completed training in Moscow and underwent a series of exercises on the use of the weapon system in Belarus.
Rocket and artillery forces commander Ruslan Chekhov told a local television network that the country formerly lacked a strike weapon with a range of more than 300 kilometers (186 miles).
With the new Iskander missiles in operation, Minsk is now reportedly capable of hitting targets at a range of up to 500 kilometers (310 miles).
Chekhov commended the weapon system for its “simplicity of use, reliability, maneuverability, and firepower.”
Fears That Belarus Will Join the War
The deployment of the high-powered missiles in Belarus has reportedly instilled fear in Ukraine that the Russian ally may soon join the war.
Minsk is considered a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and served as a “launch pad” when Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24.
As early as December last year, several reports claimed that Russia was preparing to launch a new invasion of northern Ukraine through neighboring Belarus.
The potential attack has been described as a “worst case scenario” for Russian forces, which have suffered from heavy Ukrainian resistance.
The recent shipment of weapons such as ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft guns to Minsk reinforced the speculation.
Belarus’ new nuclear-capable missiles can reach deep into Ukrainian territory and that of NATO member Poland.