KYIV: Kyiv on Sunday said it was seeking an emergency meeting of the United Nation’s Security Council to counter Russia’s “nuclear blackmail” after President Vladimir Putin announced his country would station tactical nuclear arms in Belarus.
Putin said the deployment was similar to moves from the United States, which stores such weapons in bases across Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkiye, an analogy western allies called “misleading”.
With fears of a nuclear war rising since the invasion, 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.
“Ukraine expects effective actions to counteract the Kremlin’s nuclear blackmail from the UK, China, the US and France,” the Ukrainian foreign ministry said.
US says no indication Russia has moved nuclear arms to Belarus
“We demand that an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council be immediately convened for this purpose,” it added.
The US has seen no indication that Russia has yet moved any nuclear weapons, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.
“We have not seen any indication that he (Putin) has made good on this pledge or moved any nuclear weapons around,” Kirby told CBS.
On Saturday, Putin announced Russia would station tactical nuclear weapons in neighbour and ally Belarus “without violating our international agreements on nuclear non-proliferation”.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry accused Russia of breaching its obligations, and of undermining the “nuclear disarmament architecture and the international security system in general”.
It called on “all members of the international community to convey to the criminal Putin regime the categorical unacceptability of its latest nuclear provocations.”
In the interview broadcast on Saturday, Putin said the move to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus was “nothing unusual”.
“The United States has been doing this for decades. They have long placed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allies,” Putin said.
Putin said he spoke to Lukashenko and said “we agreed to do the same.” Russia will start training crews on April 3 and plans to finish the construction of a special storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons by July 1.
Germany and Nato said the analogy was deceptive. “The comparison made by President Putin to nuclear sharing in Nato is misleading and does not justify the step announced by Russia,” an official in German foreign office said.
Nato also joined the criticism, with spokeswoman Oana Lungescu saying “Russia’s reference to Nato’s nuclear sharing is totally misleading.
Nato allies act with full respect of their international commitments.” Lungescu also blasted Russia’s announcement as “dangerous and irresponsible”.
She however said the Western allies had not yet “seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture that would lead us to adjust our own”.
Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2023
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