Putin is a ‘lunatic’ with ‘small man syndrome’ says Wallace

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Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said it is coping with the “aggressive” West by arming the Belarusian President and Putin ally Alexander Lukashenko with these weapons systems. Putin said in a broadcast on Russian television: “We will transfer Iskander-M tactical missile systems to Belarus, which can use both ballistic and cruise missiles, both in conventional and nuclear versions.”

The Iskander-M missile has a 500km range and can carry payloads of up to 700kg.

Dubbed the “SS-26 Stone” by NATO, Iskander-M refers to both the transporter-erector launch system and the short-range ballistic missile that it fires.

The system is also capable of firing ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs), known as the SSC-7 and the SSC-8.

During a meeting with Putin, Mr Lukashenko had also expressed concern about the “aggressive” “confrontational” and “repulsive” actions of Western-aligned Poland and Lithuania.

He added that his country needed Russian assistance to mount a “symmetrical response” to the US-led NATO build-up near its borders.

Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nausėda warned on Friday that Belarus is an “additional province” of Russia and added that the “Russian army can do what they want to move the forces, to deploy the equipment”.

He added that this leaves Lithuania with “no time for reaction” as Russian forces “might be easily deployed very near to our border”.

Putin’s announcement on Belarus comes as a NATO summit today being held in Madrid as the West scrambles to deal with the Russian threat.

NATO now looks to be Russia’s sworn enemy, and Putin has claimed that the military alliance was planning to admit Ukraine and use it as a platform to threaten Russia.

Many leaders in the NATO alliance sent the Russian President a direct warning ahead of the summit.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who is hosting the summit, said in a speech: “We are sending a strong message to Putin: ‘you will not win.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine has produced a more united world, in terms of democratic nations, and a resolve that is strong and clear. And I believe it will be decisive as well

NATO General-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said leaders will discuss “a blueprint for how to take NATO into the future in a more competitive and dangerous world” as well as strong support for Ukraine over the longer term.

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This is all part of its new strategic concept, which will identify Russia as a “main threat”, according to Mr Sanchez.

Previously, Russia had been classed as a strategic partner, but the new masterplan is set to change that.

Mr Stoltenberg also said that “leaders will also make a historic decision to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO”, a move that will come as a huge blow to Putin.

It comes after Turkey, which has maintained a complex but close relationship with Russia, lifted a veto in the countries joining.

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