Russian President Vladimir Putin has said on Saturday that Russia will install tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
According to the British news agency Reuters, this move by the Russian president is being considered as a warning signal on NATO’s military aid to Ukraine and growing differences with the West.
Although the announcement is not unexpected, Putin has said the move would not violate nuclear non-proliferation commitments.
It is one of Russia’s most overt nuclear gestures since it launched its invasion of Ukraine 13 months ago.
America, which is another nuclear superpower of the world, has expressed a cautious reaction to the statement of the Russian President. A senior Biden administration official has said there are no signs Moscow plans to use its nuclear weapons.
Vladimir Putin likened his plans to the US keeping its weapons in Europe and said Russia would not transfer control (of nuclear weapons) to Belarus. This could be the first time since the mid-1990s that Russia will keep such weapons outside the country.
Speaking to Russian state TV, he said, “There is nothing unusual here. First of all, the United States has been doing this for decades.” It has long installed its tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of its allied countries.
“We agreed that we would do the same without violating our obligations.”
The war in Ukraine has intensified after the West provided large-scale arms to Kiev. On the other hand, Moscow is going to fight a ‘collective war with the West’.
Some hard-line Russian politicians and observers have long speculated about nuclear attacks. They say that Russia has the right to defend itself with nuclear weapons if things escalate.
“Tactical” nuclear weapons refer to weapons that are used for specific advantages on the battlefield, not for destroying cities.
It is not clear how many such weapons Russia has as it remains a secret.
Experts told Reuters that this was a major development because Russia has until now boasted that it has not deployed its nuclear weapons beyond its borders, as has the United States.