On March 26, 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his country would be stationing tactical nuclear arms in Belarus. This move has raised concerns among western allies and experts about the possibility of a nuclear war. Putin defended the deployment, stating that it was similar to moves made by the United States, which stores such weapons in bases across Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. However, western allies have called this analogy “misleading.”
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has stated that if Minsk were to host Russian nuclear weapons, Brussels would be ready to impose new sanctions on Belarus. Borrell tweeted that hosting Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus would be an “irresponsible escalation and threat to European security.” He also urged Belarus to stop the deployment, stating that the EU stands ready to respond with further sanctions.
Experts believe that any Russian strike would likely involve small-size battlefield weapons, called “tactical” as opposed to “strategic” high-powered long-range nuclear weapons. The Ukrainian foreign ministry has accused Russia of breaching its obligations and undermining the “nuclear disarmament architecture and the international security system in general.” They have called on all members of the international community to convey to the Putin regime the unacceptability of its latest nuclear provocations.
In an interview broadcast on Saturday, Putin stated that the move to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus was “nothing unusual.” The deployment has sparked concerns among western allies and experts about the possibility of a nuclear war.