9М723 missiles, part of Iskander-M missile complex, are seen during a demonstration at the International military-technical forum ARMY-2019 at Alabino range in Moscow Region, Russia June 25, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Russia will soon deliver nuclear-capable missiles to Belarus, according to President Vladimir Putin. As Putin announced on Saturday at a meeting with Belarusian head of state Alexander Lukashenko, Russia will deliver the Iskander-M missile system to Belarus “in the coming months”, which can also be equipped with nuclear warheads.

Lukashenko had already announced the planned purchase of Iskander missiles and S-400 air defense systems from Russia in May. Putin has now also promised Lukashenko to help upgrade Belarusian warplanes so that they can also transport nuclear weapons in the future.

The Belarusian army has many Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets, which could be “improved” accordingly, Putin said at a meeting with Lukashenko in St. Petersburg. The modernization must be carried out in aircraft factories in Russia, and at the same time staff training can begin.

The rearmament plans in the midst of the Ukraine conflict are likely to cause new tensions between Moscow and the West. Belarus borders Ukraine and several NATO countries, but is a close ally of Russia. Belarus has repeatedly provided diplomatic and logistical support for the Russian military offensive in Ukraine, and attacks on Ukraine have also been launched from Belarus.