Moscow/Minsk/Kyiv: Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia will deploy its tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus in the next few months. Putin said the deployment was a response to the UK’s decision to supply artillery shells with “depleted uranium” to Ukraine. It will be the first time since the 1990s that Russia has deployed nuclear weapons outside the country. Ukraine has criticised Putin’s decision, while the US has reacted cautiously.
After the start of the Russian-Ukraine conflict, President Putin and senior Russian leaders repeatedly mentioned Russia’s nuclear preparedness. Putin had openly warned that those planning to defeat Russia should not forget that it is a nuclear-armed country. At the same time, some Russian leaders and military officials had also urged Russia to use ‘Tactical Nuclear Weapons’ in Ukraine. Even as the Ukraine conflict is ongoing, Russia has tested advanced nuclear weapons twice. The Russian president had also ordered his nuclear forces to remain on alert.
At the same time, Putin stressed increasing the defence cooperation with Belarus. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and senior officials visited Belarus. An agreement was also signed between the two countries to increase defence cooperation. It also provided for the deployment of missiles and air defence systems along with Russian military units.
According to the agreement, Russia has deployed about 10,000 soldiers in Belarus. The S-400 air defence system and Iskander missiles were also deployed in Belarus. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko had demanded nuclear weapons from Russia a few months ago. In an interview, Putin said Russia would deploy nuclear weapons per Belarus’ demand. Putin said that by July, the construction work for the base for storage of nuclear weapons in Belarus would be completed. After that, Russian nuclear weapons would be deployed in Belarus.
The Russian president also claimed that the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus is in accordance with international rules. ‘There is nothing new in the deployment in Belarus. The US has been making such deployments for the past several decades. The United States has deployed nuclear weapons in allied nations. We are also doing the same, and no rules will be violated. Russia will abide by the promises made in the context of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons,’ Putin stated. At the same time, he also pointed out that Russia will have complete control over the nuclear weapons deployed in Belarus.
Ukraine has criticised the Russian president’s announcement on deploying nuclear weapons. The Ukrainian National Security Adviser criticised Russia has made Belarus a nuclear hostage, and the new announcement is creating more instability. The US reacted cautiously to the issue. Russia and Belarus have been discussing the deployment of nuclear weapons for the past few months. Even so, Senior officials in the Biden administration said there is no indication that Russia will use the weapons.