Russian President Vladimir Putin said the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus was a warning to the West that Russia could not afford a strategic defeat. Reuters. The Kremlin leader said the first nuclear warheads had already arrived in Belarus, and the rest would arrive by the end of the year.
At an economic forum in St. Petersburg on Friday, Putin said that Russian tactical nuclear weapons had already been delivered to Belarus, but insisted that Russia did not need to resort to nuclear weapons at this time.
“You know, we negotiated with our ally, Belarusian President (Alexander) Lukashenko, to move some of these tactical nuclear weapons to the territory of Belarus – this has already happened,” Putin said.
“The first nuclear weapons were delivered to the territory of Belarus. The first, only the first part. But we will complete this task by the end of the summer or the end of the year,” he added.
The Russian leader said the first deployment of such nuclear weapons outside Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union – the first deployment of such nuclear weapons – was to warn the West about arming and supporting Ukraine.
“This is exactly a deterrent, so everyone who considers it a strategic defeat for us will not ignore it,” Putin said, using a diplomatic term for a defeat that would diminish Russia’s power on the world stage for decades.
The Russian leader announced in March that he had agreed to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, recalling the US deployment of such weapons to several European countries over the past decades.
“We have more nuclear weapons than NATO”
The United States criticized Putin’s decision but said it had no intention of changing its position on strategic nuclear weapons and saw no signs that Russia was preparing to use nuclear weapons.
However, Russia’s move is being watched closely by Washington and its allies, as well as by China, which has repeatedly warned against using nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict.
The West is doing everything it can to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia in Ukraine, where Moscow is engaged in Europe’s biggest land war since World War II, calling last year “a special military operation” against its neighbor.
But Putin said there is no need for Russia to resort to nuclear weapons at this time, and that there is no change in Moscow’s nuclear posture, which expects to use such weapons only if the existence of the Russian state is threatened.
“Nuclear weapons were created in the broadest sense of the word and to ensure the existence of the Russian state, but we … do not need such a thing (to use them),” Putin said.
But he said there was no chance of opening talks with the West to reduce Russia’s nuclear arsenal, the world’s largest, and unloaded a barrage on NATO.
“Talking about it (the possible use of nuclear weapons) reduces the nuclear limit. We have more countries than NATO countries that want to reduce our numbers. I’ll leave them alone,” Putin said.
Author: Bogdan Păcurar
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