Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Saturday his plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus. This announcement is being seen as a warning to Western countries increasing military cooperation in Ukraine.
Unlike more powerful, longer-range strategic nuclear weapons, tactical nuclear weapons are intended for use on the battlefield. Putin said the plan was a retaliatory response to Britain’s plans to supply Ukraine with “depleted uranium” ammunition. Putin had earlier claimed that these munitions were equipped with a nuclear component.
However, he later softened his tone, but Russia’s leader said in an interview broadcast on a state television channel on Saturday night that the weapons pose an additional threat to military forces and civilians in Ukraine.
Putin said that Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has been demanding these weapons for a long time due to being surrounded by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. He said that the construction of appropriate structures for the storage of these weapons in Belarus would be completed by July 1.
Russia has used the territory of Belarus to send troops to Ukraine. Moscow and Minsk have maintained close military ties amid the invasion of Kiev.
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