Russia to Station Nuclear Weapons In Belarus
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
MINSK/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Europe was approaching more insecurity Sunday after Russia said it would station “tactical nuclear weapons” in Belarus.
Russian President Vladimir Putin made the announcement Saturday, sending a warning to the NATO military alliance over its military support for Ukraine and escalating a standoff with the West.
The move marks the first known time since the mid-1990s that Moscow will have based nuclear arms outside the country.
The hosting of Russian atomic weapons was due to further internationally isolate Belarus, which once even hosted Western-backed peace talks on the future status of eastern Ukraine.
Belarus, an ally of Russia and bordering Ukraine to the northwest and Ukraine’s NATO allies in the other direction, has already renounced its non-nuclear status and neutral status.
Last year voters in the autocratically ruled nation allegedly approved a referendum to allow Russia to use its neighbor as a launching pad for nuclear missiles.
Russian and Belarusian forces also held joint training exercises before Russia invaded Ukraine.
“Tactical” nuclear weapons refer to those used for specific gains on the battlefield rather than those with the capacity to wipe out cities, military analysts said.
However, it wasn’t immediately clear whether Russia would not add weapons with more extensive capabilities soon. The deal with Belarus would not violate nuclear nonproliferation agreements, Putin claimed. He noted that the United States had stationed nuclear weapons in the territory of its European allies for decades.
“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,” Putin stressed.
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.
Russia will have completed the construction of a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus by July 1, Putin said, adding that Russia would not be “transferring control of the arms to Minsk.”
Yet the United States reacted cautiously. The White House reportedly noted that Russia and Belarus had talked about such a deal over the past year and that there were no signs Moscow planned to use its nuclear weapons.
However, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council and the country’s former president, warned earlier this week that the West’s ongoing support for Ukraine “brings the nuclear apocalypse closer.”
He added that Russia’s “relations with the West are already worse than they have ever been in history.” Instead, Moscow has recently increased closer military and economic ties with non-Western nations, including China as well as former Soviet Union nations, such as Belarus.
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