Putin says Russia will station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus

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Russia has concluded an agreement with Belarus to station tactical nuclear weapons on its neighbour’s territory, President Vladimir Putin has said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin during his meeting with Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev in Moscow, Russia, 25 March 2023.

Russian President Vladimir Putin during his meeting with Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev in Moscow, Russia, 25 March 2023.Photo: EPA/GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

The placement would mark the first time since the mid-1990s that Moscow will have deployed such weapons outside of Russia, according to the Reuters news agency.

Putin told state television on Saturday that Belarus will have a storage facility for Russian nuclear weapons ready by July 1, adding that the move would not violate Moscow’s non-proliferation obligations.

The United States, which is also a nuclear superpower, reacted with caution to Putin’s announcement, according to Reuters.

A senior US administration official acknowledged that Russia and Belarus had been discussing the arrangement for a year and said there were no indications that Moscow intended to use its nuclear weapons.

Also, the US Department of Defense’s press office said in a written statement that it „will continue to monitor the situation,” adding: „We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture nor any indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon. We remain committed to the collective defense of the NATO alliance.”

Belarus borders with three NATO members – Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

According to Reuters, the development was significant, since Russia had until now taken pride in the fact it did not deploy nuclear weapons outside its borders.

Putin made the announcement amidst increasing tensions with the West due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and shortly after the US imposed a new round of sanctions on Belarus, targeting the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.

Putin has made multiple statements containing threats related to nuclear weapons, since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Source: IAR, Reuters

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