What are the tactical nuclear weapons that Russia wants to deploy in Belarus

An Iskander-M missile, which Russia has used to attack specific targets in Ukraine, always with non-nuclear explosives.

The Russian President, Vladimir Putinannounced an agreement with belarus for the deployment of tactical nuclear bombs in Belarusian territory in response to the British announcement that it will deliver ammunition with depleted uranium to the Ukrainian Army.

Depleted uranium ammunition is used primarily for pierce the armor of military vehicles as battle tanks or troop transport vehicles and are also useful against the hull of warships.

Tactical nuclear weapons are by definition those that have battlefield utility, actual military use against a hostile force, and the most widespread academic definition is that they are bombs between 1 and 50 kilotons installed on projectiles with a range of up to 500 kilometers.

To have an idea of ​​its magnitude, we can remember that the bomb dropped by the United States on hiroshima in 1945 it was 15 kilotons and was launched from a bomber.

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Tactical nuclear weapons however can be launched in the case of Russia from ships, planes and even by ground forces.

Are much more destructive than a conventional head even though they have the same explosive energy and cause a radiation contamination affecting air, soil, water and the food chain.

This type of tactical nuclear weapons have not been included in any nuclear arms control agreement and the medium-range ones were only in the Medium-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, in force from 1987 to 2018.

deterrence capacity

The strategic nuclear weapons instead they have the deterrence and mutual assured destruction capability that dominated the Cold War. The United States and Russia have reduced their arsenal of these weapons from 19,000 and 35,000 to 3,700 and 4,480 by January 2022.

The Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launched during exercises carried out by Russia's strategic nuclear forces (Russian Defense Ministry / REUTERS)
The Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launched during exercises carried out by Russia’s strategic nuclear forces (Russian Defense Ministry / REUTERS) (RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY /)

“Large-scale nuclear attacks are considered as unfeasible. Strategic nuclear weapons are losing its deterrent value in a war between nuclear powers. The use of tactical nuclear weapons is more likely, in theory, so their possession would strengthen a country’s deterrence,” he said. Nina Srinivasan RathbunProfessor of International Relations at the University of Southern California, United States.

Despite its greater power, the military utility of tactical nuclear weapons is questionable, since bombs with conventional explosives are becoming more powerful, to the point that the United States has reduced their number. Most of its arsenal of 150 gravity nuclear bombs B61 is located in Europe.

France and United Kingdom they have completely eliminated their tactical arsenalsalthough Pakistan, China, India, Korea from North and Israel they do have pumps of this type.

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Questionable military utility

US military studies have concluded that it would be necessary to detonate a one kiloton tactical nuclear bomb within 90 meters of a main battle tanke to cause serious damage. Studies on its use in a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan They suggest that a Pakistani 5-kiloton tactical nuclear bomb used against a regiment of Indian main battle tanks could destroy about thirteen tanks.

Russia for its part has some 2,000 tactical nuclear bombs which have a very important role in its nuclear strategy mainly due to its lower capacity and technological advances in conventional weapons.

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They are mostly ready for use. use in air-to-surface missilesshort-range ballistic missiles, gravity bombs, and depth charges carried by medium-range tactical bombers or by anti-ship or anti-submarine torpedoes.

In recent years Russia has developed conventional and nuclear dual use missiles lor that it has caused some concern in Washington, since it is not known until the last moment what type of explosive head it is carrying. In particular, the manufacture of missiles has spread Iskander-M, that have already been used to attack specific targets in Ukraine, always with non-nuclear explosives.

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However, the use of Russian nuclear weapons in Ukraine does not seem very logical. “I think he would not achieve any military objective. It would contaminate territory that Russia considers to be part of its historical empire and would likely affect Russia itself. It would increase the chances of direct NATO intervention and destroy Russia’s image in the world,” said Nina Srinivasan Rathbun.

For this reason, its deployment in Belarus has more to do with the tsar bomb, a hydrogen bomb developed by the Soviet Union and detonated in the Barents Sea. It had more than 50 megatons of power and its size made it not very useful at the war level, but it fulfilled its function at the propaganda level.

(With information from Europa Press)

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