Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last weekend that Russia will deploy tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus. He highlighted that this is not a transfer, but a deployment of Russian weapons in the neighboring country, which would not represent a violation of the agreements on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
According to him, Russia is doing “the same thing they (the US) have been doing for decades” by deploying tactical nuclear weapons in NATO countries. Putin noted that Belarus has already deployed 10 aircraft capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons and the Iskander missile system, which also carries such weapons.
In addition, the Russian leader declared that the agreement with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko provides for the completion of the storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons on July 1, 2023.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Monday that “the parties should focus on a peaceful resolution of the situation” and that “a nuclear war should not be unleashed”.
“On January 5, the leaders of nuclear-armed states issued a joint declaration saying that it is impossible to fight or win a nuclear war. The declaration emphasized that wars between nuclear-armed states must be avoided and strategic risks must be reduced. “, said the spokeswoman in an interview with the Russian agency RIA Novosti.
Reactions from Ukraine and the West
The Ukrainian authorities claim that currently Belarus assumes a role of “nuclear hostage” of Moscow. According to the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, Putin’s statement could lead to destabilization of the situation in Belarus and “increase to the maximum the level of negative perception” of Russia and Putin in Belarusian society.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded the convening of an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council on account of the Russian president’s announcement. The chancellery classified the Kremlin’s latest statements as “a provocative step by Putin’s criminal regime, undermining the foundations of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the architecture of nuclear disarmament and the international security system as a whole.”
The folder also appealed to Belarusian society “to avoid carrying out criminal intentions”. Kiev said it “expects effective action to combat the Kremlin’s nuclear blackmail by the UK, China, the US and France, including as permanent members of the UN Security Council”.
The US administration has said it will not change the way its strategic nuclear forces operate after Putin’s announcement. “We see no reason to adjust the deployment of our own nuclear forces and no indication that Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons. We remain committed to collective defense within the NATO alliance,” said the spokesman for the National Security Council from the USA, Adrienne Watson.
“Belarus’s deployment of Russian nuclear weapons would mean an irresponsible escalation and a threat to European security. Belarus can still prevent it, the choice is theirs. The EU is ready to respond with more sanctions,” said European diplomacy chief Josep Borrell.
Editing: Thales Schmidt
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