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NATO Criticises Putin Over Announcement Russia Will Deploy Nuclear Weapons In Belarus

NATO Criticises Putin Over Announcement Russia Will Deploy Nuclear Weapons In Belarus
March 27, 2023


NATO has called Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin nuclear rhetoric “dangerous and irresponsible”


Ukraine President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy also accused Putin of making Belarus a “nuclear hostage” with his announcement that Russia was going to store tactical nuclear weapons in the country, which both nations border.


Putin in an interview with state television on Saturday likened his plans to the U.S. stationing its weapons in Europe, NBC News reports.


He also insisted that such a move would not violate nuclear nonproliferation agreements.


“There is nothing unusual here,” he said, adding that “the United States has been doing this for decades.” He added that Russia and Belarus had agreed to “do the same thing, without, I would like to highlight, going against our international duties and agreements on the non-distribution of nuclear weapons.”


Russia would not be transferring control of the weapons to Belarus, he said, although he added that his country was planning to complete the construction of a storage facility for them by the summer.


Moscow had already stationed 10 aircraft capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons in the country, he said. He added that a number of Iskander tactical missile systems that can launch nuclear weapons had also been stationed in the country.


The Iskander-M contains two guided missiles with a range of up to 300 miles and can carry conventional or nuclear carry warheads.


Putin said that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had long requested the deployment. There was no immediate reaction from Lukashenko.


Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan had nuclear weapons stationed on their territory but handed them over to Russia after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, so this could be the first time since then that Russia has based such weapons outside the country.


American reaction to Putin’s announcement was muted. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson on Saturday said that the U.S. had “not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture nor any indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon.”


But Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, tweeted that the Kremlin “took Belarus as a nuclear hostage.”


Calling Russia’s nuclear rhetoric “dangerous and irresponsible,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said the organization was “closely monitoring the situation.”


“We have not seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture that would lead us to adjust our own,” Lungescu said. “We are committed to protect and defend all NATO allies.” NATO added that Moscow had “consistently broken its arms control commitments,” most recently suspending its participation in the New START Treaty — a key nuclear arms control treaty between the U.S. and Russia, the world’s two largest nuclear powers.


Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer of Britain and NATO’s joint chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear regiment called the plan a “strategic error” and “another sign of desperation coming out of the Kremlin,” after 13 months of war in Ukraine and few victories to show for it.


“It seems that Putin is clutching at straws,” he said, adding that Russian forces had been “hammered” around Bakhmut, where brutal battles for control of the eastern city have raged for months, with neither side gaining much ground.


Moving such weapons closer to NATO nations like Germany, Poland and Lithuania was likely to hasten Western weapons to Ukraine, he said.


Germany, which has previously been cautious about providing military aid to Ukraine, “might be encouraged” by the potential threat of closer nuclear weapons, he added.