Putin says Russia will station tactical nukes in Belarus, sending a clear warning to the West
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans on Saturday to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus, a warning to the West as it steps up military support for Ukraine.
Putin said the move was triggered by Britain’s decision this past week to provide Ukraine with armour-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.
Tactical nuclear weapons are intended for use on the battlefield and have a short range and a low yield compared with much more powerful nuclear warheads fitted to long-range missiles. Putin said Russia planned to maintain control over those it sends to Belarus, and construction of storage facilities for them will be completed by 1 July.
He didn’t say how many nuclear weapons Russia would keep in Belarus. The US government believes Russia has about 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons, which include bombs that can be carried by tactical aircraft, warheads for short-range missiles and artillery rounds.
Putin argued that by deploying its tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Russia was following the lead of the United States, noting that the US has nuclear weapons based in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.
“We are doing what they have been doing for decades, stationing them in certain allied countries, preparing the launch platforms and training their crews,” Putin said, speaking in an interview on state television that aired Saturday night. “We are going to do the same thing.”
Russia has stored its tactical nuclear weapons at dedicated depots on its territory. Moving part of the arsenal to a storage facility in Belarus would up the ante in the Ukrainian conflict by placing them closer to the Russian aircraft and missiles already stationed there.
The US said it would “monitor the implications” of Putin’s announcement.
For more information, watch Euronews’ report in the video above.