By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
MOSCOW/MINSK (Worthy News) – In a clear warning to the West, Russia‘s president announced Saturday he would send nuclear-capable short-range missile systems to ally Belarus.
Vladimir Putin made the announcement as East-West tensions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine rise to levels not seen in decades.
Putin said Iskander-M systems which “can fire ballistic and cruise missiles, both conventional and nuclear types,” would arrive in Belarus in the coming months.
The systems have a range of up to 500 kilometers (310 miles) and are seen as a warning to the West not to intervene in the war in Ukraine.
News of the arrival of missiles came as Ukrainian intelligence officials claimed Saturday that Russia fired missiles from Belarus to “drag” its ally into the war.
“This is the first case of an air strike across Ukraine directly from the territory of Belarus. Today’s shelling is directly related to the efforts of the Kremlin authorities to drag Belarus into the war in Ukraine as a direct participant,” the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine said in a statement.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin sold nuclear-capable Iskander missiles and S-400 missile systems to Belarus.
“We agreed with Putin. We bought from you a number of these Iskanders and S-400s we needed and armed our Army,” Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko said. “Now we have a completely different army with such weapons. At the very least, this weapon can cause unacceptable, colossal damage.”
The standoff was due to raise concerns the war in Ukraine could escalate into a broader possible nuclear conflict involving more nations.
Separately an influential lawmaker with close ties to Putin reportedly named London as Moscow’s first target should World War Three break out.
Andrey Gurulyov, a former deputy commander of Russia’s southern military district, commented on Kremlin-backed television during a discussion about Lithuania’s blockade of the neighboring Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
He raised the prospect of invading the Baltics nation and reverting the Lithuanian capital Vilnius to its former identity as Vilno and Estonian capital Tallinn back to its tsarist identity as Reval.
Both Estonia and Lithuania are NATO countries, and any invasion by Russia would trigger Article 5, potentially causing a Third World War. But Gurulyov said the west would have no stomach for such a conflict.
However, if they do, they will face severe consequences, including a potential nuclear strike, he suggested.
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