Transatlantic military alliance, NATO has slammed Vladimir Putin after he announced plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus.
Putin said his plan to send tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus was similar to the United States stationing its weapons in Europe, insisting that Russia would not violate its nuclear non-proliferation promises.
The move is one of Russia’s most pronounced nuclear signals yet and a warning to NATO over its military support for Ukraine, which has called for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in response.
“Russia’s nuclear rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said on Sunday, March 26.
“NATO is vigilant and we are closely monitoring the situation. We have not seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture that would lead us to adjust our own.”
Lungescu said Putin’s non-proliferation pledge and his description of U.S. weapons deployment overseas were way off the mark.
“Russia’s reference to NATO’s nuclear sharing is totally misleading. NATO allies act with full respect of their international commitments,” she added in a statement.
“Russia has consistently broken its arms control commitments.”
Ukraine’s security chief, Oleksiy Danilov, said Russia’s plan would destabilise Belarus, which he said had been taken “hostage” by Moscow.
Belarus and Russia have close military ties, and Minsk allowed Moscow to use its territory as a staging point for the latter’s invasion of Ukraine last year.
The United States, also a nuclear superpower, played down concerns about Russia’s planned deployment.
“I can tell you we’ve seen nothing that would indicate Mr. Putin is preparing to use tactical nuclear weapons in any way whatsoever in Ukraine,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told broadcaster CBC on Sunday.
“And I can also tell you that we haven’t seen anything that would cause us to change our own strategic nuclear deterrent posture.”
Tactical nuclear weapons are those used to make specific gains on a battlefield, rather than those capable of wiping out cities.