Moscow to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, says Putin
‘We would place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus without violating nonproliferation regime,’ says Vladimir Putin
In a move certain to stoke tensions in war-torn Ukraine and its Western allies, Russia will complete construction of a special storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus, according to remarks by Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
Russia has already handed over to Belarus the Iskander complex, which can store nuclear weapons, Putin said in a Saturday interview on TV channel Rossiya-24.
According to Putin, his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko has long raised the issue of deploying Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, which have not been present there since the early 1990s, when the USSR fell.
"We agreed with Lukashenko that we would place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus without violating the nonproliferation regime," Russian news agency TASS quoted Putin as saying.
The US has long placed such weapons in a number of countries, so there is nothing unusual in Belarus’ request, Putin added.
Putin later said Russia deployed 10 aircraft, all capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons, to Belarus, according to TASS.
"Ten aircraft are ready to use this type of weapon. We have already transferred to Belarus our well-known, very effective Iskander complex, it can also be a carrier [of tactical nuclear weapons]," he said.
Moscow will start training crews early in April, said Putin, adding that Russia would have completed the construction of a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus by July 1 and the control of arms will not be transferred to Minsk.
Since Russia started the war in neighboring Ukraine 13 months ago, Western leaders and commentators have raised concerns that Moscow might make the conflict nuclear, often based on statements by the Russian side seen by the West as saying that all options are on the table.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.