Russia and Belarus have signed an agreement that formalizes the mechanism for installing Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus. The weapons will continue to be in Moscow’s control.
“In the context of an extremely sharp escalation of threats on the western borders of Russia and Belarus, a decision was made to take countermeasures in the military-nuclear sphere,” Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency quoted Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying.
Although the deployment date of the weapons was not specified, Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said that the building of tactical nuclear weapon storage facilities in Belarus will be finished by July 1.
Ever since invading neighboring Ukraine last year, Putin has frequently stated that Russia would be prepared to use nuclear weapons if necessary to maintain its “territorial integrity”, in what NATO called “dangerous and irresponsible” language.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the exiled leader of the Belarusian opposition, denounced the action and claimed it would “further jeopardize the security of Ukraine and all of Europe.” Russia has had a force and armament presence in Belarus since using it as a staging area for an invasion of the neighboring Ukraine.
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