Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Moscow would station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Russian state media reported.
Russia “will complete construction of a tactical nuclear weapons storage facility in Belarus on July 1,” Putin said, according to a report by Ria Novosti.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has agreed to the deployment, which will not violate obligations under nuclear non-proliferation agreements, Putin said. Moscow would not transfer control of nuclear weapons to Minsk, according to reports.
“We agreed with Lukashenko that we would place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus without violating the non-proliferation regime,” Putin said, according to Tass.
“The United States has been doing this for decades,” Putin reportedly said. “They have long since deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries,” he said.
“We agreed that we will do the same – without violating our obligations, I emphasize, without violating our international obligations on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons,” Putin said.
Russia has already stationed 10 planes in Belarus capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons, he said.
The development came as intense fighting continued around the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, which Russia has been trying to capture for months. The assault of the Russian forces on the city has “largely at a standstillsaid the British Ministry of Defense on Saturday.
The ministry said there was ‘extreme attrition’ on the Russian side around Bakhmut, but ‘Ukraine also suffered heavy losses’ in its defense of the area, which has become a focal point of the war .
Moscow may change its operational focus following the “inconclusive results of its attempts to conduct a general offensive since January 2023”, the ministry said.