Russia deploys Belarusian tactical nuclear weapons. Russia deployed tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus on Thursday, the first time since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. Belarus’ leader said the warheads were already on the way.
The U.S. State Department blasted the deployment plan but said it would not change its policy on strategic nuclear weapons or see any signs Russia was planning to use one.
After sending soldiers into Ukraine 15 months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin claims the U.S. and its allies are waging a proxy war against Russia.
Putin outlined the nuclear deployment plan in a March 25 state television interview.
“The collective West is essentially waging an undeclared war against our countries,” Putin’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, told his Belarusian colleague in Minsk, according to Russia’s defense ministry.
Shoigu said the West tried “to prolong and escalate the armed conflict in Ukraine.”
According to Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Putin ordered tactical nuclear weapons to be deployed, although the Kremlin denied this.
“The movement of the nuclear weapons has already begun,” Lukashenko told reporters in Moscow while meeting with other ex-Soviet presidents.
He said, “Possibly.” Check when I return.”
Shoigu said he was signing documents in Minsk over Belarus’ tactical nuclear weapons storage process.
Washington State Department spokeswoman Matthew Miller called the proposals “the latest example of irresponsible behavior that we have seen from Russia since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine over a year ago.”
Miller echoed Washington’s warning that using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons in Syria would have “severe consequences” without detailing them.
“I will just add we have seen no reason to adjust our strategic nuclear posture or any indications that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon,” Miller told reporters.
Putin has frequently warned that Russia, which has the most nuclear weapons, will use any measures to defend itself, and he has portrayed the Ukraine war as a fight for Russia’s survival against an aggressive West.
The U.S. and its allies want Ukraine to defeat Russian soldiers on the battlefield. Still, they deny that they intend to destroy Russia and that the Ukraine war is related to NATO’s post-Soviet enlargement.
Three NATO members—Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia—border Belarus. Russia will control armaments.
Tactical nuclear weapons are smaller than strategic ones meant to destroy U.S. or Russian cities and are employed for battlefield advantages.
The U.S. estimates that Russia possesses 2,000 operational, tactical nuclear warheads, much outnumbering the U.S. and NATO.
Half of the U.S.’s 200 tactical nuclear weapons are in European locations.
Shoigu claimed that Belarus received Iskander-M missiles, which can carry conventional or nuclear warheads, and certain Su-25 planes were upgraded for nuclear usage.
“Belarusian servicemen have received the necessary training,” Shoigu said, according to his ministry.
The U.S. has called Putin’s words during the Ukraine crisis the greatest nuclear threat since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, but Moscow argues its position has been misconstrued.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, signed by the Soviet Union, prohibits nuclear powers from transferring weapons or technology to non-nuclear powers but allows them to deploy weapons abroad under their control.