‘Putin taking Belarus as ‘nuclear hostage’
Kyiv, March 26: Ukraine’s top security official on Sunday denounced the Kremlin’s plans to station tactical atomic weapons in Belarus, saying that Russia was taking its ally as a “nuclear hostage.” But Moscow said it was making the move in response to the West’s increasing military support for Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the plan in a television interview that aired on Saturday, saying it was triggered by a UK decision this past week to provide Ukraine with armour-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.
Putin argued that by deploying its tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Russia was following the lead of the United States.
He noted that Washington has nuclear weapons based in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.
“We are doing what they have been doing for decades, stationing them in certain allied countries, preparing the launch platforms and training their crews,” he said.
Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, tweeted Sunday that Putin’s announcement was “a step towards internal destabilisation” of Belarus that maximized “the level of negative perception and public rejection” of Russia and Putin in Belarusian society. The Kremlin, Danilov added, “took Belarus as a nuclear hostage.” On Saturday, Putin argued that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has long asked to have nuclear weapons in his country again to counter NATO. Belarus shares borders with three NATO members – Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – and Russia used Belarusian territory as a staging ground to send troops into neighboring Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
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