Russian tactical nuclear weapons might arrive in Belarus as early as this summer, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday. Moscow is completing construction of a specialized storage for such arms amid repeated calls by Minsk to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil, he added.
The storage in Belarus will be ready by July 1, Putin told Russia 24 TV. The president also said that Moscow does not plan to hand over control of any tactical nuclear weapons to Minsk and that it would only deploy its own arms to Belarus. He did not specify when exactly the weapons would be transported to the storage.
The move was prompted by the UK’s decision to provide Kiev with depleted uranium munitions, Putin explained. The UK announced its plans to send such shells to Ukraine for use with Challenger 2 battle tanks earlier in March. Moscow blasted the move as a sign of “absolute recklessness, irresponsibility and impunity” on the part of London and Washington.
The US dismissed Russia’s concerns by calling depleted uranium shells a “commonplace type of munition” that has “been in use for decades.” The Russian Defense Ministry then warned that their use could trigger nothing short of a radioactive disaster in Ukraine, citing the aftermath of the use of such munitions by NATO in Iraq.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly raised the issue of threats posed to his nation by nuclear weapons deployed by the US to EU countries. In October 2022, he pointed to “nuclear sharing” talks between Washington and Warsaw, warning that nuclear weapons could be placed in Poland, which borders Belarus.
Minsk needs to take “appropriate measures” to address this threat, Lukashenko said at that time, adding that he would discuss the matter with Moscow.
Currently, US nuclear weapons are deployed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye. In 2021, Russia called on the weapons to be repatriated as part of its security proposals, but the US and NATO refused.
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