No commitments breached in placing nuclear weapons in Belarus: Russia
The US Permanent Representative to NATO says the United States and its NATO allies will closely monitor Russia’s plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia affirmed on Friday that Russia is not violating its non-proliferation commitments by deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
On March 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russian tactical nuclear weapons would be placed in Belarus, with the storage sites for weapons expected to be finished by July 1.
According to the Russian President, the move does not breach Russia's commitments to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons since Moscow will not hand over control of the weapons to Minsk.
"President Putin was clear about the fact that we are not transferring nuclear weapons. We are talking about the transfer of the Iskander-M operational-tactical missile system to the Republic of Belarus, the reequipment of aircraft of the Belarusian Air Force and the training of crews, the construction of a special storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus," Nebenzia told the UN Security Council.
Those weapons will not be operated by Belarus, Nebenzia noted, adding that they will remain under Russia's control.
The Russian diplomat reminded the Council that the US has deployed several nuclear weapons throughout Europe.
Earlier on Friday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he could reach an agreement with Putin on the deployment of strategic nuclear weapons in Belarus if deemed necessary for the protection of the country.
NATO to monitor Russia’s plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus: US Envoy
In a related context, US Permanent Representative to NATO Julianne Smith pointed out on Friday that the United States and its NATO allies will closely monitor Russia’s plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
"We will be monitoring closely to see how this unfolds in terms of actual action. So far, we have heard a lot of bluster and rhetoric on nuclear weapons, and will be watching to see what this means in terms of what Russia actually either constructs or moves into Belarus," Smith told reporters.
The US envoy highlighted that the US warned Russia “in very clear terms” about the consequences of using tactical nuclear weapons inside Ukraine.
"As far as we can tell right now, we do not have an indication that Russia is really preparing to use these types of weapons. This is something we are monitoring quite closely," she noted.
On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden criticized Putin's stated plan to deploy nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus, branding it "dangerous" talk.
"This is dangerous kind of talk and it's worrisome," Biden told reporters at the White House.
But Belarus confirmed that the decision comes in response to years of Western pressure, including sanctions, as well as the military-build up by NATO member states near its borders.
In a statement, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said the move will offer the country protection from the United States and its allies, who continue to exert pressure on Lukashenko’s government.