Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Saturday that his nation would be deploying nuclear weapons to the neighboring nation of Belarus, potentially raising the stakes in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
According to the Russian leader, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko requested that Moscow deploy tactical nuclear weapons to the country.
Putin said that the weapons would require new storage facilities that would be ready by the beginning of July.
Russian President Putin has announced today that they will soon begin Deploying a number of Tactical-Nuclear Weapons into the Territory of Belarus; these Weapons will most likely be launched from 9K720 Iskander Missile Systems. pic.twitter.com/VuszqeQAhk
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) March 25, 2023
The Russian president said that the deployment of such weapons followed Western nations’ own deployment of nuclear weapons. Russia has several thousand tactical nuclear weapons in its stockpile.
Putin argued that “the United States has been doing this for decades” and that Russia’s efforts would not violate Russia’s “international obligations on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.”
Putin also stated that Russia helped Belarus upgrade its warplanes to carry nuclear weapons. He stated that such tactical nuclear weapons could also be deployed using short-range ballistic missiles.
Western nations have sent billions in military and civilian aid to Ukraine since the war started in February 2022.
In particular, Putin criticized Britain’s plan to supply Ukraine with anti-tank shells made with depleted uranium. These rounds are especially effective against tank armor.
During his statement, Putin said that Britain’s decision is dangerous “not just for combatants, but also for the people living in those territories and for the environment.”
He also stated that Russia has similar shells, but has not utilized them so far in the war.
Tactical nuclear weapons generally have a smaller yield than strategic nuclear weapons. Tactical weapons are intended for use on the battlefield, while strategic weapons could be used to destroy cities.
Belarus is a former Soviet republic and borders both Russia and Ukraine. Belarus has not formally joined the war but has provided crucial support for Moscow during the conflict. During the first stages of the war, Russian troops utilized Belarus as a staging ground.
Lukashenko is a close ally of Putin and is an honorary officer in the Russian Army.