February 27, 2022

Russia’s Tight Embrace of Belarus Raises Prospect of Nuclear Deployment

Featuring Michael Kofman

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Journalist Evan Gershkovich

Belarusians voting in today’s referendum are poised to abandon the country’s nonnuclear status, an outcome that could lead to Moscow deploying such weapons in Belarus just as Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the alert level for his country’s nuclear forces.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’s longtime leader, is expected to tighten his grip on power in the far-reaching constitutional referendum that is all but certain to pass in the country’s tightly controlled political system, with polls closing late Sunday. The vote, beyond upending Belarus’s position on nuclear weapons, could allow Mr. Lukashenko to extend his term as president.

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Michael Kofman, an expert on the Russian military at CNA, a not-for-profit research organization, said it would represent a further signal Belarus is becoming more firmly ensconced in Russia’s security orbit. A deployment of Russian nuclear forces to Belarus wouldn’t meaningfully affect the West’s security calculus, he added.

Read the full story and more from The Wall Street Journal.

Authors

  • Michael Kofman

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Program

    Michael Kofman serves as a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses' Russia Studies Program, and a Fellow at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson Internation...