Belarus said it will host Russian nuclear weapons in retaliation to the West but will have no control over them

Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko (Sputnik/Reuters) (SPUTNIK/)

For two and a half years, Belarus has faced unprecedented pressure (…) from the United States, Great Britain and their allies”, the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the government of the dictator said in a statement Alexander Lukashenkowhich denounced a “direct and rude interference” in its internal affairs.

The economic and political sanctions against this former Soviet republic allied with Russia they are accompanied by the “strengthening of NATO’s military potential” on the territory of the member countries of the Alliance neighboring Belarus, he added.

In that context, Belarus is “obliged to take retaliatory measures”insisted the ministry, assuring that Minsk will not have control of those weaponswhose deployment “does not in any way contradict articles I and II of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”.

On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he had the Mink consent to deploy “tactical” nuclear weapons in Belarusa country at the gates of the European Union governed since 1994 by Alexander Lukashenko, his closest ally.

According to Putin, preparations for the deployment should start in April.

Belarus is Moscow's most important regional ally (Sputnik/Reuters)
Belarus is Moscow’s most important regional ally (Sputnik / Reuters) (SPUTNIK /)

The announcement drew harsh criticism from Western countries. NATO denounced Russia’s “dangerous and irresponsible rhetoric,” while the European Union threatened Minsk with new sanctions if the deployment went ahead.

The United States reaffirmed that it has no reason to believe that Russia was preparing the use of nuclear weapons, while condemning the Russian announcement.

Possible consequences

With his most recent statement, Putin again resorts to the nuclear threat to indicate Moscow’s readiness to escalate the conflict in Ukraine.

Deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, which shares a 1,084-mile (673-mile) border with Ukraine, would allow Russian aircraft and missiles to hit any potential targets with greater ease and speed should Moscow decide to use them. It would also extend Russia’s ability to attack several NATO member countries in central and eastern Europe.

The measure comes at a time when kyiv is preparing to launch a counter-offensive to retake territory occupied by Russia.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of the Russian Security Council, warned days ago that Ukraine’s attempts to regain control of the Crimean peninsula were a threat to the “very existence of the Russian state,” something that warrants a nuclear response in accordance with the country’s security doctrine. Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

“Every day that the West provides weapons to Ukraine brings us closer to a nuclear apocalypse,” Medvedev warned.

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov noted that Putin’s goal is to discourage Ukraine’s Western allies from supplying Kiev with more weapons ahead of any counteroffensive.

Putin is “using nuclear blackmail in an attempt to influence the situation on the battlefield and force Western partners to reduce their supplies of weapons and equipment under the threat of the conflict escalating nuclear,” Zhdanov said. “The Belarusian nuclear gallery will hang not only over Ukraine, but also over Europe, creating a constant threat, escalating tensions and unnerving the Ukrainians and their Western partners.”

(With information from AFP and AP)

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