Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Saint Petersburg, Russia Photograph:( AFP )
Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, tensions between Russia and the West have soared along with triggering a barrage of sanctions against Moscow
The Russian foreign ministry has said that in order to counter the ''aggressive'' West, President Vladimir Putin told his counterpart from Belarus that Moscow would supply Minsk with missile systems capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
Expressing concern about the "confrontational" and "repulsive" policies of its neighbours Lithuania and Poland, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko asked Putin to help Belarus mount a "symmetrical response".
In response, Putin assured Lukashenko that Belarus' Russian-built Su-25 jets could be upgraded if necessary.
A foreign ministry summary of the meeting quoted him as saying, "We will transfer Iskander-M tactical missile systems to Belarus, which can use both ballistic and cruise missiles, both in conventional and nuclear versions."
Replacing the Soviet "Scud", the Iskander-M mobile includes two guided missiles have a range of up to 500 km (300 miles) and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.
Putting Belarus and its close ally Russia under one umbrella, Lukashenko said, "Minsk must be ready for anything, even the use of serious weaponry to defend our fatherland from Brest to Vladivostok."
Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, tensions between Russia and the West have soared along with triggering a barrage of sanctions against Moscow.
As a result of the Ukraine war, Sweden and Russia's northern neighbour Finland have applied to join the Western alliance.
By blocking the transit of goods subject to European sanctions travelling across its territory from Russia, Lithuania, in particular, has infuriated Moscow which has termed it a "blockade".
However, Lithuania has defended its decision by saying that it affects only 1 per cent of the normal goods transit on the route.
(With inputs from agencies)
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