Putin's Power Play: Russia To Deploy Tactical Nuclear Weapons In Belarus Next Month
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday (9 June) announced that Moscow will deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus once special storage facilities are ready on 7-8 July, marking the country's first deployment of such weapons outside of Russia since the Soviet Union's collapse.
Amid the largest land war in Europe after the second World War that had lasted over 15 months, Putin had accused the United States and its Western allies of escalating the proxy war and arming Ukraine, in an attempt to weaken Russia.
In March, Putin threatened NATO by announcing plans to station nuclear weapons in Belarus, in response to the US-led group's support for Ukraine.
NATO nations have said that they will support Ukraine in defending itself against Russia's imperial-style land grab, seen by Kyiv as a threat to the country's survival, for an indefinite period.
During talks at his summer retreat in Sochi, Putin told Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that the nuclear deployment plan was proceeding smoothly.
"Preparation of the relevant facilities ends on July 7-8, and we will immediately begin activities related to the deployment of appropriate types of weapons on your territory," Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript of his remarks, reports Reuters.
The 70-year-old Putin portrays the war as crucial for Russia's survival against NATO's supposed expansion and has cautioned the West that Moscow won't retreat.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy aims to expel Russian soldiers from Ukraine and join NATO quickly.
The US, NATO allies in Europe and China are closely monitoring Putin's nuclear move, with China warning against the use of weapons in the conflict.
Post the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US and Russia collaboratively undertook the task of relocating the extensive Soviet nuclear weaponry, which was dispersed in the newly independent nations of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, back to Russia.
The US is the only country to have used nuclear weapons during the 1945 attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
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