The situation in Europe is moving at a dizzying pace.
On April 2, Russia’s ambassador to Belarus announced the prospect of deploying tactical nuclear weapons.
On April 4, Finland officially joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
On April 6, Russian and Belarusian presidents Putin and Lukashenko met. The deployment of nuclear weapons in western Belarus is given de facto approval.
In northern Europe, the Western powers and Russia are engaged in a fierce game.
In Ukraine, which it has invaded, Russia is fighting an uphill battle. According to the New York Times, a leaked classified Pentagon document states that Russian military losses could be up to 223,000. The death toll is said to be more than 40,000. Even if Russia tries to launch a counteroffensive, it is said that the production of weapons and ammunition is limited due to resource shortages caused by economic sanctions from the West and other factors.
If Russia were to withdraw from Ukraine, it would lose contact with southern Europe and the Black Sea. Finland’s entry into NATO would be even more damaging. Finland’s joining NATO would be even more damaging, as it would mean the loss of the northern Baltic Sea following the Black Sea. The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus is seen as a check against such moves by Western nations.
An Important Russian Enclave is at Risk
The real target of the nuclear weapons believed to be deployed in western Belarus does not appear to be Ukraine. Itsuro Nakamura, a professor emeritus at Tsukuba University and an expert on the situation in Russia, explains.
Russia has an enclave called Kaliningrad, which borders the Baltic Sea. It is the base of the Baltic Fleet, and is an important land to put pressure on NATO. Kaliningrad is reached by a 100-km long highway from Belarus, from which military supplies are brought in.
Now, Poland and Lithuania, encouraged by Finland’s NATO membership, are trying to block this highway. Both countries border Kaliningrad. The real purpose of deploying tactical nuclear weapons is to counter these moves. It is quite possible that President Putin will launch a nuclear attack on Poland or Lithuania, since a roadblock would effectively neutralize Kaliningrad, an important strategic base.
The situation in the Baltic Sea is even more dangerous than the situation in Ukraine. Nakamura continues.
If Russia, Poland, and Lithuania go to war, the three Baltic states and Finland will also be involved in the fighting. Naturally, Belarus, which supports Russia, would also join the war. Other European countries and the United States will not remain silent. It would be the outbreak of a third world war, one that would strike the world with nuclear terror.
The situation in Ukraine is not the only one that is tense. In the Baltic Sea, too, a state of conflict involving several countries is continuing.