Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed that his country has moved the first batch of nuclear weapons to the territory of its ally Belarus, as a tactical move in its war against Ukraine. However, he added that these were deterrents against the West, and not for unleashing nuclear warfare.
Putin said, “I see no need for Russia to resort to nuclear weapons for now. These would only be used if Russia’s territory or state was threatened.” He was talking yesterday at a business forum in St Petersburg.
The news agency Reuters quoted Putin as saying, “As you know we were negotiating with our ally [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko, that we would move a part of these tactical nuclear weapons to the territory of Belarus — this has happened.
“The first nuclear warheads were delivered to the territory of Belarus… but only the first ones, the first part. We will do this job completely by the end of the summer or by the end of the year.”
He emphasised that the nuclear weapons were being positioned in Belarus not for use on Ukraine, but “as an element of deterrence, so that all those who are thinking about inflicting a strategic defeat on [Russia] are not oblivious to this circumstance”.
Lukashekno had said on Wednesday that his country had started taking delivery of the Russian nuclear weapons. Reuters reported that these nuclear warheads placed in Belarus were “shorter-range less powerful nuclear weapons that could potentially be used on the battlefield”, and that this was the first time they had been positioned outside Russia.
The Belarusian president said in a televised interview, “We have missiles and bombs that we have received from Russia. The bombs are three times more powerful than those (dropped on) Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
Far from being imposed on Belarus, these Russian nuclear weapons were wanted by his country as a deterrent, said Lukashenko. “We have always been a target. They (the West) have wanted to tear us to pieces since 2020. No one has so far fought against a nuclear country, a country that has nuclear weapons.”
Lukashenko faced protests in his own country in 2020, after a hotly disputed presidential election, and he was helped by Putin to stay in power. He has been a key ally for Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.
Referring to the Ukrainian counteroffensive, which began around June 4 and which he has always dismissed as ineffectual, Putin said that the adversaries “were suffering heavy losses” and stood no chance against the Russian military.
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According to reports today, the Ukrainian counteroffensive had some success with advancing in the south, after being forced to slow down by the manoeuvres of the Russian military. The Ukrainians are being bombed from above by the Russians and do not have the fighter jets required to counter this.