Russia has announced to transfer the “Iskander-M Missile System” to Belarus. This missile system can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their nuclear and conventional versions. Iskander-M missile system is codenamed as “SS-26 Stone” by NATO. Russia uses the term Iskander-M to define transporter-erector launch system as well as short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) fired by it. This system can be used to fire ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) viz., SSC-7 and the SSC-8. This system has been exclusively used by Russian military. It was first launched in 1996, successfully.
Iskander-M missile has a range of 500 km. It is capable of carrying a payload of up to 700 kg. It can carry conventional as well as nuclear warheads. Conventional warheads can be equipped with bunker-buster munitions, cluster bombs and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) warheads.The Iskander system was inducted in 2006, by Russia. It was developed during late 1980s after “Oka” SRBM (Short Range Ballistic Missile) or OTR-23 was banned in accordance with Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. The Oka was first attempt by Russia, for replacing Soviet Scud missiles.
Russia made this announcement, when G-7 forum met in Germany. Russia raised nuclear weapons as a sort of warning to the West, against their support to Ukraine. This system has been used by Russia against Europe in the past. In 2012, Russia announced that the system could be used to target Europe’s missile defences. It has already been deployed in Kaliningrad Russian exclave. From there, it can be used to target NATO forces in Poland, Sweden and the Baltic States.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
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