Belarus Updating Nuclear Military Doctrine

March 2024

Belarus is in the process of adopting a new military doctrine that would allow for the use of nuclear weapons by Russia.

Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin announced the decision at a meeting of the country’s Security Council on Jan. 16, saying that Belarus “will put forth a new military doctrine that for the first time provides for the use of nuclear weapons,” the Associated Press reported on Jan. 17.

At the same meeting, Aleksander Volfovich, the Security Council secretary, said that “statements by our neighbors, in particular Poland…forced us to strengthen” the military doctrine and that “the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus is intended to deter aggression from Poland, a NATO member,” AP reported.

In late April, the doctrine will go to the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly for approval. The assembly works in parallel with the parliament, and its approval is needed before the doctrine becomes official, according to Russian state media RIA Novosti.

Belarus pushed forward the new doctrine as neighboring Baltic states signed an agreement to reinforce their borders with Belarus and Russia.

“The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of the Republic of Belarus is considered an important measure of the preventive deterrence for potential adversaries from unleashing armed aggression against the Republic of Belarus,” Khrenin said at a briefing on Jan. 19, according to CNN.

In March 2023, as Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine intensified, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he could transfer tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, a close ally. By the end of the year, news reports suggested that the shipments were completed. (See ACT, May 2023.)

Since that time, Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko repeatedly has said that he would not hesitate to order the use of nonstrategic nuclear weapons if Belarus faced an act of aggression.—SHIZUKA KURAMITSU