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Ukrainian security chief says basing Russian nukes in Belarus will destabilize Belarus By Reuters

Ukrainian security chief says basing Russian nukes in Belarus will destabilize Belarus By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, speaks to Reuters during an interview, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kiev, in Ukraine, July 8, 2022. REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko /


By Dan Peleschuk

KYIV (Reuters) – A top security adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday that Russian plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus would destabilize the country, which he said had been taken “hostage” by Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the decision on Saturday, sending a warning to NATO over its military support for Ukraine and escalating the standoff with the West.

While the move is not unexpected and Putin has said he will not violate nuclear non-proliferation pledges, it is one of Russia’s most pronounced nuclear signals since the start of its invasion. from Ukraine 13 months ago.

Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, called it “a step towards the internal destabilization of the country”, adding that it maximizes what he called the level of “negative perception and public rejection” of Russia and Putin in Belarusian society.

“The (K)remlin took Belarus as a nuclear hostage,” he wrote on Twitter.

Putin compared his plans to the United States stationing its weapons in Europe and said Russia would not transfer arms control to Belarus. However, this could be the first time since the mid-1990s that Russia has based such weapons outside the country.

Washington, the world’s other nuclear superpower, played down concerns over Putin’s announcement and the possibility of Moscow using nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine.

“We have seen no reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture or any indication that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon. We remain committed to the collective defense of the NATO alliance,” said a senior US administration official.

The official noted that Russia and Belarus have been talking about the transfer of nuclear weapons for some time.

Analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in a note on Saturday that the risk of escalation to nuclear war “remains extremely low.”

“ISW continues to assess Putin as a risk-averse actor who repeatedly threatens to use nuclear weapons with no intention of following through in order to break Western resolve,” he wrote.

However, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons called Putin’s announcement an extremely dangerous escalation.

“In the context of the war in Ukraine, the likelihood of miscalculations or misinterpretations is extremely high. Sharing nuclear weapons worsens the situation and risks catastrophic humanitarian consequences,” he said on Twitter. .

Putin said Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had long called for the deployment. There was no immediate reaction from Lukashenko.

While the Belarusian army has not officially fought in Ukraine, Minsk and Moscow maintain close military relations. Minsk allowed Moscow to use Belarusian territory to send troops to Ukraine last year and the two nations have stepped up joint military training.

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