Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus in an interview with Russia 24 TV channel.
He said that the construction of the storage facility would be completed on July 1, and stressed that the weapons would be placed “without violating the obligations under the START” (Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms). According to him, the reason for such a step was the announcement of the UK on the supply of ammunition to Ukraine with depleted uranium. TASS quotes President of Russia:
“Even out of the context of these events, this statement (about the possible supply of depleted uranium ammunition by Britain to Ukraine – TASS note), Alexander Grigorievich Lukashenko has long raised the question of deploying Russian tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus,” Putin said. He stressed that “there is nothing unusual about this.” “The United States has been doing this for decades. They have long placed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territories of their allied countries, NATO countries, in Europe. In six states – the Federal Republic of Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Greece – well , not in Greece right now, but there is storage, and we agreed [с Белоруссией]that we will do the same. Without violating, I want to emphasize this, our international obligations on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.”
The Russian President noted that Belarus “has been asking for a long time to host Russian nuclear weapons” and added that “Moscow is doing what the United States has been doing for ten years.” Putin noted that the depleted uranium ammunition that the West is going to transfer to Kiev does not belong to weapons of mass destruction, but “in one way or another they create radiation dust and are considered very dangerous.”
Air Force Edition comments decision of the Russian presidentPavel Aksenov, BBC defense correspondent):
Putin’s words that the transfer of tank rounds with depleted uranium to Ukraine was the reason for the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus sound especially alarming – after all, nuclear weapons appear in the context of a military conflict. Until recently, this was done in words, now the warheads will be physically moved. The appearance of depleted uranium shells in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, by the way, is a rather weak reason for such an escalation – such shells are in the Russian army, and the construction of a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons began clearly long before the statement by the Deputy Minister of Defense of the United Kingdom about the transfer of such ammunition to Ukrainians. Nevertheless, this was enough reason for Putin to publicly announce such a move.