Russia on March 27, 2023, said it would not change its plans of deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, the neighbouring country and a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin despite the growing criticisms globally. Two days ago,Putin had declared that his country would stationsome of the tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
With Russia adamant in its decision to deploy the nuke heads, Ukraine, the West, NATO, US and other countries slammed the decision of Putin. Ukraine even sought an emergency meeting of theUN Security Councilover the move.
WHAT DID PUTIN SAY?
While making the announcement, Putin said that stationing of nuclear weapons in Belarus would not violate nuclear non-proliferation agreements. He said that the deployment was in response to a longstanding request from Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko. Putin also stated that United States has long stationed nuclear weapons in six different allied NATO countries in Europe. He said that Russia stationed the Nuclear war heads as US also did the same, but without violating the International non-proliferation obligations.
“They have tactical nuclear weapons in certain countries (the US has some weapons stationed in Europe and Turkey, and Britain), prepare the delivery systems, and train the crews. We’re planning to do the same thing.”
Putin said that Moscow would not transfercontrol of its arms to Minsk. The storage facility for the weapons in Belarus would be completed by July 1. However, training crews for operating the weapons would start next week itself, he stated.
WHAT WEAPONS WILL BE STATIONED IN BELARUS?
Though Putin said that Russia would station Nuke heads in Belarus, he did not specify what warheads would be stationed. He only stated that tactical nuclear war heads would be stationed. But what are these tactical weapons? A proper definition has not been evolved but experts say that these weapons are for tactical gains on the battlefield.
Moreover, the world is not clear of the actual tactical weapons that Russia has. According to some estimates, is in possession of 2,000 such tactical warheads. It said that Russia has ten times more weapons than the US.
A landlocked country, Belarus is bordered by Russia to the east and northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Belarus’s neighbouring countries are part of NATO and EU group. However, Belarus remained under Russia’s influence.
UKRAINE AND WEST
Soon after Russian President Putin made the announcement, Ukraine called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Ukraine said that Putin’s decision would destabilise Belarus. The country also asked the international community to take “decisive measures” to prevent Russia’s use of nuclear weapons.
Noting that its allies acted with full respect of their international commitments, NATO spokesperson OanaLungescu said Russia must return to compliance and act in good faith. In strong words, the European Union was also critical of the Russian move. Re[ports quoting top EU diplomats said that Belarus hosting Russian nuclear weapons would mean an irresponsible escalation and threat to European security.
However, the United States was cautious, noting that they did not see any signs of Russia moving towards using a nuclear weapon.