June 8, 2023
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Moscow will have completed construction of a tactical nuclear weapons storage facility at its ally by July 1.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Moscow would deploy nuclear weapons.tacticson the territory of its ally, Belarus, a country located at the gates of the European Union. Russian officials have repeatedly issued thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine if the conflict escalates significantly. Led since 1994 by Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus borders Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania.

There is nothing unusual here: the United States has been doing this for decades. They have long deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their alliessaid Vladimir Putin in an interview broadcast on Russian television. “We agreed to do the same“, he added, saying he had the Minsk agreement.

We have already helped our Belarusian colleagues and equipped their planes (…) without violating our international commitments regarding the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Ten planes are ready to use this type of weapon“continued Vladimir Putin. “From April 3, we start training the crews. And on July 1, we will complete the construction of a special warehouse for tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus“, he added.

Recurring nuclear threats

According to Vladimir Putin, this decision was motivated by London’s desire to send depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine, as recently mentioned by a British official. The Russian president threatened to also use this type of shell if kyiv were to receive it. “Russia, of course, has something to answer for. We have, without exaggeration, hundreds of thousands of such shells. We don’t use them at the moment“said the head of the Kremlin.

During recent negotiations in Moscow between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, the two leaders had stated in a joint declaration that a nuclear war “should never be triggered“, because “there can be no winners“. Several Russian officials, including former President Dmitry Medvedev, have however threatened Ukraine and Westerners with nuclear weapons since the start of the Russian offensive launched on February 24, 2022.

Russia also suspended last month the important New Start nuclear disarmament treaty signed with the United States, although it promised to respect the limitation of its nuclear arsenal until the effective end of this agreement on 5 February 2026.

Vladimir Putin had accused Ukraine last year of wanting to have a “dirty bomb“, a weapon made up of conventional explosives surrounded by radioactive materials intended to be disseminated in dust at the time of the explosion. Ukraine and its Western allies had condemned these allegations and accused Russia of playing nuclear escalation. Russian nuclear doctrine does not provide for the preventive use by Russia of nuclear weapons, but only in response to an attack on her or her allies, or in the event of “threat to the very existence of the state“.

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