Putin: We will deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus
The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has declared that Moscow has reached an agreement to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of its close ally, Belarus, which borders both Russia and Ukraine.
Russian state news agency TASS on March 25 quoted Putin as saying that there is "nothing unusual" about the move, and that it does not violate existing treaties against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
"We have agreed with [Belarusian ruler Alyaksandr] Lukashenka to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, without violating the non-proliferation regime," the Russian leader was quoted as saying by TASS.
"There is nothing unusual here: first, the United States has been doing this for decades. Those who have long placed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territories of their allied countries", he said. "We have agreed that we will do the same."
Putin has added that Russia is building a military depot in Belarus, and that Moscow will not hand over control of the weapons to Minsk authorities.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is an important pact aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, signed by more than 190 countries, and entered into force in 1970.
Putin on March 25 also threatened to send depleted uranium munitions to the Russian military fighting in Ukraine if the West sends such munitions to Kiev. A British official recently suggested that London might do so.
"Russia, of course, has a response. Without exaggeration, we have hundreds of thousands of such shells. We haven't used them yet," Putin said on Russian television.
Militaries use depleted uranium munitions because of their effectiveness against tanks and other armored vehicles.