Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly planning to truck a cache of tactical nuclear weapons to new storage facilities located in Belarus — and possibly deploy them from this new location at a later time — in a plan that he states is the exact same as the U.S. setting up nuclear installments inside of NATO countries.
Russia is creating brand new storage units for these nuclear weapons that are slated to be ready by the 1st of July, as reported by the Financial Times. Lukashenko has officially allowed Belarus to serve as a staging ground for the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine since way back at the inception of the war.
Putin stated in a few remarks this past Saturday, that he was shifting the home of these nuclear weapons in Belarus in response to a longstanding request from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to combat NATO. He also stated the move is just a hard counter to the U.K.’s choice to offer Ukraine stockpiles of armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.
Moscow would keep full control of these nuclear weapons, stated Putin in a release.
“There is nothing unusual here: first of all, the US has been doing this for decades,” stated Putin. “They placed their tactical nuclear weapons in six different allied NATO countries in Europe. … We have agreed to do the same thing, without, I stress, violating our international non-proliferation obligations.”
“They have [tactical nuclear weapons] in certain countries, prepare the delivery systems, and train the crews. We’re planning to do the same thing,” he went on.
In response to these moves from Russia, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry sounded the alarm to convene an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Ukraine cried out for members of the council to intervene directly as a means to put a stop to the ongoing nuclear threat.
“Ukraine expects effective actions to counter the nuclear blackmail of the Kremlin,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry explained in a release, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. “We demand to immediately convene an extraordinary meeting of the U.N. Security Council for this purpose.”
Russia’s plan appears to be entirely calculated as a means to threaten that the conflict in Ukraine could be quickly escalated to a full-scale nuclear conflict, though officials in the U.S. remain skeptical that Putin would actually follow through on the threats with their own nuclear strike. U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated that the White House is carefully watching the moves from Russia, but has no reason to think that Moscow actually intends to use its nuclear arsenal.
“We have not seen any indication that he has made good on this pledge or moved any nuclear weapons around,” stated Kirby this past Sunday. “We’ve in fact seen no indication he has any intention to use nuclear weapons, period, inside Ukraine.”
As of writing, it is still entirely unclear how many tactical nuclear weapons Putin wants to House in Belarus. The U.S. estimates that Russia’s entire nuclear arsenal is built entirely around just 2,000 bombs.