NATO has criticised Russia’s plans to base tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus as “dangerous and irresponsible” as Ukraine pushed for an emergency UN meeting to discuss the issue.
The military alliance condemned the move after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow plans to station the weapons in neighbouring Belarus.
“NATO is vigilant, and we are closely monitoring the situation. We have not seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture that would lead us to adjust our own,” said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu.
Putin said he was responding to Britain’s decision this past week to provide Ukraine with armour-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.
The Russian leader earlier made a false claim that the rounds have nuclear components.
He subsequently toned down his language, but insisted in a state television interview broadcast Saturday night that the ammunition posed an additional danger to both troops and civilians in Ukraine.
Tactical nuclear weapons are intended for use on the battlefield, unlike more powerful, longer-range strategic nuclear weapons. Russia plans to maintain control over the ones it plans to Belarus, and construction of storage facilities for them will be completed by July 1, Putin said.
In an interview, Putin argued that by deploying its tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Russia was following the lead of the United States, noting that the US has nuclear weapons based in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.
While US downplayed the move, saying there are no indications Russia will use nuclear weapons, NATO said Putin’s remarks were misleading.
This handout photo released by Ostorozhno Novosti reportedly shows a crater of about 15m in diameter and 5m deep, after an explosion that according to Russian authorities was caused by a Ukrainian drone in Kireyevsk, Russia, on March 26, 2023. (Ostorozhno Novosti via AP)
“Russia’s reference to NATO’s nuclear sharing is totally misleading,” Lungescu said, referring to Putin’s claims that his move would merely mirror those of Western nations.
“NATO allies act with full respect of their international commitments. Russia has consistently broken its arms control commitments, most recently suspending its participation in the New START Treaty,” she said.
Ukraine’s government on Sunday called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to “counter the Kremlin’s nuclear blackmail” after Putin revealed plans to station tactical atomic weapons in Belarus.
One Ukrainian official said that Russia “took Belarus as a nuclear hostage.”
Further heightening tensions, an explosion deep inside Russia wounded three people Sunday. Russian authorities blamed a Ukrainian drone for the blast, which damaged residential buildings in a town just 175km south of Moscow.
Objects of war become new normal in Kyiv
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Last modified: February 21, 2023
Yo también lo veo a veces, pero antes no le prestaba mucha atención.