Thursday, 1 Jun 2023

Putin’s cronies gloat Belarus move makes nuclear NATO attack possible

Putin warns about response to UK supplying ammo to Ukraine

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Over the weekend, Vladimir Putin announced that Russia has stationed tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. The Russian President said the move does not violate nuclear non-proliferation agreements, comparing it to the US keeping nuclear weapons in NATO member countries in Europe. It marks the first time Russia has stored its nuclear arsenal in another country since the mid-Nineties and the fall of the Soviet Union. While the reaction from much of the world was subdued, the move was condemned by a NATO spokesperson as “dangerous and irresponsible”. The Russian newspapers — most of which are state-owned and Kremlin mouthpieces — told a different story.

Several titles in Russia have described how the move means that Belarus is now becoming one with Russia, “integrated into the Russian military machine”.

Steve Rosenberg, BBC Russia editor, examined what the Russian newspapers were saying following Putin’s announcement over the weekend.

A headline in the popular, privately-owned Moscow newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reads “Putin’s nuclear sensation”. On Belarus and Russia, the article concludes: “This decision shows that we are now one country.”

The paper is owned by Pavel Gusev who has been editor-in-chief since 1983. He has been described as an “obedient servant of Putin” by the Russian writer Viktor Shenderovich.

Mr Gusev was sanctioned by the European Union in April of last year “in response to the ongoing unjustified and unprovoked Russian military aggression against Ukraine and other actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”

The pro-Kremlin Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia’s most-read tabloid, wrote that the small number of Iskander tactical missile systems that have been moved to Belarus will make it easier to attack any NATO country.

Part of the article read: “This will make it possible for Russian nuclear weapons to reach any NATO country in Europe in the event of an attack on Russia or Belarus.”

Although NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu described Putin’s move as “dangerous,” she said that the West had not “seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture that would lead us to adjust our own”.

Komsomolskaya Pravda was formerly an all-union newspaper of the Soviet Union owned by Media Partner which is owned by Putin’s “henchman” Grigory Berezkin’s company ESN Group.

But the business daily newspaper RBC’s article, titled, “What consequences will the stationing of nuclear weapons in Belarus have?”, said Russia is supposedly under threat of nuclear conflict, stating that the threat is at the “highest level” in years.

Part of the article read: “This is a clear signal to NATO that Russia is increasing its reliance on nuclear weapons and specifically their use on the battlefield. Recently Russia has started talking again about nuclear war, making several strongly-worded statements.

“Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said that the probability of a nuclear conflict is at its highest level in decades. And the deputy head of the Russian security council Dmitry Medvedev said that the threat of a nuclear conflict has grown.”

The pro-Kremlin popular daily newspaper Izvestia published a picture of an Iskander alongside an extract which read: “Russia will be able to strike targets further afield than if it was only able to launch missiles from the Kaliningrad region.”

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It continued: “First and foremost, we’re talking about the southwestern direction. Secondly, Belarus becomes more integrated into the Russian military machine.

“Third, we are strengthening the security of our ally by demonstrating our intentions. Moreover, our tactical nuclear capabilities have been given extra flexibility.”

The oldest popular daily paper is owned by National Media Group (NMG). The company’s chair is Alina Kabaeva, former Olympic gymnast and rumoured girlfriend of Putin.

In Russia, the Kremlin has control over mass media with almost all independent media outlets being shut down and forced to close or operate in exile since Putin invaded Ukraine last February.

While the Russian newspapers were chipper about the move, was previously told that Belaurs’ President Alexander Lukashenko will refrain from helping Russia in its Ukraine war for fear of a popular Belarusian uprising against his regime.

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