Putin puts nukes in Europe for the first time: Russia will station ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons in Belarus, President says in new threat to the West
- Moscow to base nuclear arms outside of the country for first time since 1990s
- Iskander missile systems have already been transferred to Belarus, Putin claims
The rounds which are set to be provided to Kyiv’s forces contain depleted uranium, and Moscow has falsely claimed that they have nuclear components as it escalates its confrontation with Ukraine and its allies.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a staunch supporter of the invasion, has long asked for the weapons on the territory, Putin said during an interview on Russian state television.
It will be the first time since the mid-1990s that Moscow will have based such arms outside of the country, something it says the US has done for decades.
Putin made the announcement at a time of growing tensions with the West over the war in Ukraine and as some Russian commentators speculate about possible nuclear strikes.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has long asked for the weapons on the territory, Putin said. The leaders are pictured together at a meeting in February
Putin told state television that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had long raised the issue of stationing tactical nuclear weapons in his country, which borders NATO member Poland.
‘Tactical’ nuclear weapons refer to those used for specific gains in the battlefield.
The belligerent Russian president argued that it wouldn’t violate global efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, as the US has done the same for years.
‘There is nothing unusual here either: firstly, the United States has been doing this for decades.
‘They have long deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries,’ he said.
‘We agreed that we will do the same – without violating our obligations, I emphasize, without violating our international obligations on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.’
The Russian leader did not specify when the weapons would be transferred to Belarus.
Russia will have completed the construction of a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus by July 1, Putin said.
Moscow has already transferred Belarus a number of Iskander tactical missile systems to Belarus, Putin said. These can be used to launch nuclear weapons
He added that Moscow would not actually be transferring control of the arms to Minsk.
Russia has stationed 10 aircraft in Belarus, which are capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons, he claimed.
Moscow has already transferred a number of Iskander tactical missile systems to the country, according to Putin.
Videos of them being fired on Ukrainian targets by Russia have been released throughout the war.
The Iskander missiles have the potential to be used to launch nuclear weapons.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, nuclear weapons were deployed in the four newly-independent states of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
In May 1992, the four states agreed all the weapons should be based in Russia and the transfer of warheads from Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan was completed in 1996.