Russia intends to supply nuclear-capable Iskander-M missile systems to Belarus in the coming months, President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday.
“In the coming months, we will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” Putin said in a broadcast on Russian television at the start of his meeting with Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg.
Details and logistics of the weapons transfer would be discussed by the defense ministers of the two countries, Putin said.
Putin also said Russia would help Belarus upgrade its fleet of Su-25 fighter jets to make them capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
“This modernization should be carried out in aircraft factories in Russia and the training of personnel should start in accordance with this,” he added after Lukashenko asked him to “adapt” the planes.
Belarus has been a key player in the Russian war against Ukraine. The country served as a staging ground for Russian troops to invade on February 24.
Ukraine said Saturday that Russian troops had fired dozens of missiles at the Ukrainian cities of Zhytomyr and Chernihiv from Belarus.
The Iskander-M is a mobile guided missile system code-named “SS-26 Stone” by NATO, which replaced the Soviet “Scud.”
Its two guided missiles have a range of up to 500 kilometers (300 miles) and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.
Putin has several times referred to nuclear weapons since his country launched a military operation in Ukraine on February 24, in what has been seen as a warning to the West not to intervene.
Lukashenko said last month that his country had bought Iskander nuclear-capable missiles and S-400 anti-aircraft anti-missile systems from Russia.