#

​If Putin is Not Bluffing About Nuclear Weapons in Belarus, Then a Storage Facility for Them Can Be Built in Machulyshchi Airfield

1337
Belarusian "Machulyshchi" airfield / Illustrative photo of pre-war times
Belarusian "Machulyshchi" airfield / Illustrative photo of pre-war times

Historically, this airfield was built precisely for a deployment of strategic aviation and had all the necessary infrastructure for storing nuclear ammunition

Putin told his propagandists that by July 1, 2023, a storage of nuclear weapons would appear on Belarusian territory, as if it were a "response" to the transfer to Ukraine of armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium by Great Britain. At the same time, the russians allegedly modernized 10 aircraft of the Belarusian Air Force for use as carriers of nuclear weapons. The russian federation claims that all these steps apparently do not violate the terms of Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which the Kremlin either fulfills or does not.

When evaluating this statement, it is better to proceed from the worst option - two dictators (Putin in Russia and Lukashenko in belarus) are really preparing to deploy nuclear weapons on belarusian territory, and are really preparing the corresponding infrastructure.

Read more: ​US is 'Deadly Serious' About russia’s Use of Nuclear Weapons and Warns of 'Catastrophic Consequences' if It Happens
In February 2023, the Kremlin announced the transfer of several Iskander mobile short-range ballistic missile systems to Belarus for independent operation, Defense Express
In February 2023, the Kremlin announced the transfer of several Iskander mobile short-range ballistic missile systems to Belarus for "independent operation" / Photo from open sources

It is logical to assume that Putin and Lukashenko can use one of the profile facilities to store nuclear weapons that was built on Belarusian territory in times of the USSR. In any case, it is more logical to use existing developments than to build a new object "from scratch". "Classic" storage of nuclear weapons is a whole complex of above-ground and underground capital structures made of concrete, with equipment for operations with nuclear warheads.

There is publicly available information about at least three facilities in Belarus that during the USSR had the status of a so called "central storage base" of nuclear weapons ("CSB") and were subordinate to the 12th Chief Directorate of the Ministry of Defense in Moscow (a department within the Russian (ex-Soviet) Ministry of Defense. It is responsible for the safe-keeping, technical maintenance, transportation, delivery, issuance, disposal, etc. of the nuclear arsenal of the state, as well as the testing of nuclear charges) - "Gomel-30" , and similar "CSB" near the airfield in Baranovichi and the "Machulyshchi" airfield.

An abandoned site for transshipment of nuclear charges into underground storage facilities on the territory of the Gomel-30 facility, Defense Express
An abandoned site for transshipment of nuclear charges into underground storage facilities on the territory of the Gomel-30 facility / Illustrative photo from pre-war times

Thus, the Belarusian "Machulyshchi" airfield had been appearing in news mainly in the context of the fact that Russian A-50U airborne early warning and control aircraft as well as MiG-31K hypersonic missile carrier aircraft are based there. But it is worth reminding that until 1994, a regiment of Tu-22K missile carriers, armed with Kh-22 missiles (soviet-made long-range anti-ship missile designed for use against aircraft carriers and carrier battle groups, with either a conventional or nuclear warhead), was stationed at this airfield. It is also worth reminding that the russians began to "master" the Machulischy airfield back in the fall of 2021, during the "Zapad-2021" military exercises.

The buildings of the former "central storage base" at the "Machulyshchi" airfield are perhaps the best preserved of all other similar facilities in Belarus, because the Central Bank of the Republic of Belarus used the storage facilities there to store currency values. That is, the Belarusian authorities have at least minimally monitored the condition of the premises of the former "CSB" near "Machulyshchy" for the past two decades. There was at least minimal security there. Accordingly, there is reason to assume that if Putin is not bluffing, then it is the "Machulyshchi" airfield that the Kremlin can use to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus, because there are the best "starting conditions" there.

Soviet Tu-22 missile carriers at the Belarusian Machulyshchi airfield, Defense Express
Soviet Tu-22 missile carriers at the Belarusian "Machulyshchi" airfield / Archive photo from open sources

Photos in the public domain show that options with the possible restoration of the "CSB" at the "Gomel-30" facility and near the airfield in Baranovichi, where the 61st air base of the Belarusian Air Force is currently located, which is equipped, in particular, with russia-made Su-30SM fighters, should not be rejected.

The underground capital facilities at
The underground capital facilities at "Gomel-30" have been preserved in a relatively good condition, but the equipment clearly needs updating / Illustrative photo from pre-war times

If the Russians do build a new facility for storing nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory, which will already be subordinate to the 12th Chief Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the russian federation, then this facility will need to be "filled" with nuclear warheads, and this process will be noticeable. This, in turn, Putin can use for another round of "nuclear blackmail", especially against the background of the successes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine during the spring-summer offensive campaign.

But if the Kremlin dictator goes for it, then it is hardly worth waiting for the transfer of Tomahawk missiles by the United States of America to Ukraine. Rather, it is worth waiting for the White House to mention Poland's application to join the Nuclear Sharing program announced in October 2022. A positive response to Warsaw from Washington on this request would mean that Poland could become the sixth country in Europe where the US will host nuclear weapons.

American tactical nuclear weapons stored at bases in Europe under the Nuclear Sharing program, Defense Express
American tactical nuclear weapons stored at bases in Europe under the Nuclear Sharing program / Illustrative image from open sources
Read more: British Intelligence Confirmed the Mig-31K With Kinzhal Missiles Deployment Near Minsk