Belarus to get Russian tactical nuclear weapons ‘in several days’ – Lukashenko
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday that Russian tactical nuclear weapons would be physically deployed on the territory of Belarus "in several days", earlier than previously announced, the Belta state news agency reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia would start deploying such weapons in Belarus after special storage facilities were made ready on July 7-8, Moscow’s first move of such warheads outside Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Lukashenko was cited as saying that Belarus was now ready to host the weapons.
“Everything is ready. I think we will have what we asked for in a few days, And even a little bit more,” Lukashenko was cited as saying.
Putin announced in March he had agreed to deploy such weapons in Belarus, pointing to U.S deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in a host of European countries over many decades.
Putin’s nuclear move is being watched closely by both the United States and its NATO allies in Europe and by China, which has repeatedly cautioned against the use of nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict.
The United States has criticised Putin’s nuclear deployment but has said it has no intention of altering its position on strategic nuclear weapons and also that it has not seen any signs Russia was preparing to use a nuclear weapon.
It is still unclear where the Russian nuclear warheads – which will remain under Russian control – will be kept in Belarus.
(Reporting by Andrew Osborn and Felix Light Editing by Guy Faulconbridge)