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Business News/ News / World/  Putin says Russia put first nuclear weapons in Belarus
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Putin says Russia put first nuclear weapons in Belarus

President Vladimir Putin said Russia has delivered its first tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, three months after announcing the plan that threatens to ratchet up tensions with the US and its allies over the war in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (via REUTERS)Premium
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (via REUTERS)

President Vladimir Putin said Russia has delivered its first tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, three months after announcing the plan that threatens to ratchet up tensions with the US and its allies over the war in Ukraine.

“The first nuclear charges were delivered to the territory of Belarus. But only the first," Putin said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday. “This is the first part. But by the end of the summer, by the end of the year, we will complete this work."

Also Read: President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks about Ukraine's counter-offensive against Russia

Asked about Putin’s announcement Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US sees no need to change its defensive stance as a result of the deployment.

“We have no reason to adjust our own nuclear posture," Blinken told a news conference in Washington. “We don’t see any indications that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon."

Putin announced in March that Russia would base tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of its ally, drawing criticism from the US and European nations. Repeated hints from Kremlin officials since the Feburary 2022 invasion of Ukraine that they might use the arms have also triggered muted warnings from Russia’s supporters in China and India.

Friday, Putin said he sees “no need" for Russia use nuclear weapons now. The arms “are created to ensure our security in the broadest sense of the word, the existence of the Russian state," he said. Moscow was meeting its non-proliferation obligations by retaining control of the weapons though it’s trained Belarusian troops on the “storage and use of tactical special munitions," he said.

Putin said he’d long rejected US appeals to reduce its stockpiles of tactical nuclear weapons, using a crude colloquial expression to signal that position won’t change. Russia, he said, has more of those arms that the US and its allies. His spokesman later elaborated that Putin’s comments don’t mean the Kremlin is refusing to participate in arms control talks.  

‘Rather Ironic’

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko suggested in an interview broadcast Wednesday that the Russian weapons had already arrived in his country, though Putin previously said delivery would only begin next month.

In his comments Friday, Blinken denounced Lukashenko for “making irresponsible, provocative choices to cede control of Belarus’s sovereignty against the will of the Belarusian people."

Noting that Putin had cited a desire to ensure that Ukraine didn’t get nuclear weapons as a justification for his invasion, Blinken said, “it would be rather ironic among many other things for President Putin to now be talking about putting nuclear weapons on the territory of a neighboring state — again, including a state that gave up the nuclear weapons that it inherited when the Soviet Union dissolved."

Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan gave up the atomic weapons that had been based on their territory when the Soviet Union collapsed.so 

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Published: 17 Jun 2023, 07:01 AM IST
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