Monday, March 27, 2023

Putin’s threat of nukes in Belarus

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Saturday that the Kremlin plans to station nuclear weapons in Belarus, drawing claims of “nuclear blackmail” from Ukraine and condemnation from the United States and NATO.

Putin said the move would counter the U.S.’s deployments of nuclear weapons in different European countries, placing nuclear weapons across the border from NATO member Poland.

“We are doing what they have been doing for decades, stationing them in certain allied countries, preparing the launch platforms and training their crews,” Putin said in a state media interview on Saturday. “We are going to do the same thing.”

Tactical nuclear weapons are made for battlefield use and are not designed for long-range attacks.

Putin has repeatedly raised the specter of nuclear weapons throughout his war on Ukraine, however his comments over the weekend quickly spurred global concern.

He said on Saturday that Russia will complete construction of a storage facility for the weapons by July 1, and has already stationed 10 aircraft in Belarus capable of carrying tactical nukes, according to Al Jazeera.


In a statement on Sunday, NATO called Putin’s comments “dangerous & irresponsible.” 

“NATO is vigilant, and were are closely monitoring the situation. We have not seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture that would lead us to adjust our own,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said in a statement. “We are committed to protect and defend all NATO allies.” 

Lungescu also said in the statement that Russia’s reference to NATO’s nuclear sharing is “totally misleading,” arguing that NATO members have fulfilled international commitments while Russia recently suspended its involvement in a nuclear treaty with the U.S.

“Russia must return to compliance and act in good faith,” she said.

United States

The U.S. said it will “monitor the implications” of Putin’s threat, but noted it had not seen any indication that Russia’s nukes were on the move.

“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture nor any indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

During an appearance on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that there has been “no indication” of Russia moving nuclear weapons to Belarus. 

“We’ve in fact seen no indication that he has any intention to use nuclear weapons, period, inside Ukraine,” he added.


Ukraine requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council after Russia announced its plans to station nuclear weapons in Belarus, calling for the U.S. and other western powers to counter Russia’s “nuclear blackmail.” 

“Ukraine expects effective measures to counter the Kremlin’s nuclear blackmail by the United Kingdom, China, the USA and France, in particular, as permanent members of the UN Security Council,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We demand to immediately convene an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council for this purpose.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry also appealed Belarus “to prevent the fulfillment of the criminal purposes regarding the deployment of nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus … which will further turn this country into a hostage of the Kremlin.” 


Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the opposition to Belarusian President said Russia’s deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in her country would violate its constitution and “grossly contradicts the will of the Belarusian people.”

Lukashenko is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has helped Russia’s war by allowing Russian troops to stage attacks along its border with Ukraine. However, Lukashenko has not committed troops to Russia’s war. He has not publicly commented on Putin’s remarks as of Sunday evening.

Tsikhanouskaya said Russia moving nukes into Belarus risked “further subjugating Belarus under its illegal control, further depriving it of sovereignty.”

“Russia acts as the occupying force, violating national security and putting Belarus on the collision course with its neighbors and the international community,” she added.  

Tsikhanouskaya also called on the international community to demand that Russia cease its nuclear threats and withdraw forces from the country.

In his comments Saturday, Putin claimed a deal on stationing nuclear weapons in Belarus did not violate international nonproliferation agreements, as Moscow would still control the weapons.

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