Russia deploys tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus

by Guy Faulconbridge

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia moved forward on Thursday with plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, whose president said the nuclear weapons were in line with Vladimir Putin’s announcement earlier this year.

This is an unprecedented move since 1991, when Moscow never installed nuclear weapons outside its borders following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The plan was unveiled by Vladimir Putin in an interview on Russian state television on 25 March, in which the Kremlin chief accused the United States and its Western allies of waging a proxy war against Russia by aiding and abetting Ukraine.

After a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart in Minsk on Thursday, the Russian defense minister said the West was “essentially waging an undeclared war” on Russia and Belarus, according to comments reported by his services.

Sergei Shoigu said that the West was doing everything possible to “prolong and intensify the armed conflict in Ukraine”.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said that Russian strategic nuclear weapons were already on the way following a decree to that effect signed by Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin has not confirmed this announcement.

When asked by reporters, Alexander Lukashenko said it was “possible” that these weapons were already in Belarus, which shares borders with three NATO member states – Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Sergei Shoigu said that the Belarusian military has received proper training and that both countries can take additional measures to guarantee their security.

“NATO’s military activities have become as aggressive as possible,” denounced the Russian Defense Minister according to comments reported by his services.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Mark Trevelyan; French edition by Jean Terzien)

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