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Putin has taken Belarus ‘hostage’ with Russian plans to station nuclear weapons in the country, says Ukraine

The Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov during the briefing after the sitting of the Councile in Kyiv, Ukraine, November 7, 2022.The Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov during the briefing after the sitting of the Council in Kyiv, Ukraine, November 7, 2022.

Sergii Kharchenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images

  • Russia has taken Belarus as a “nuclear hostage,” a top Ukrainian official said on Sunday.
  • On Saturday, Putin announced plans to store tactical nuclear weapons in the country. 
  • The US said it has “not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture,” in response.  

Russia has been accused of taking Belarus as hostage after Russia President Vladimir Putin announced plans to store tactical nuclear weapons in its neighboring country. 

Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said on Twitter that the move was a step towards “internal destabilization of the country.”

“The Kremlin took Belarus as a nuclear hostage,” he added.  

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, called the statement “too predictable,” adding that Putin “is afraid of losing and all he can do is scare with tactics,” on Twitter on Sunday.

On Saturday, Putin announced on Russian state television that he planned to build a storage facility in Belarus to hold tactical nuclear weapons. He said the facility would be constructed by July. 

The Russian president said there is “nothing unusual” about his announcement, noting the US has “long deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries,” according to Reuters. 

He added that the act would not violate international nuclear non-proliferation agreements.

One expert told Reuters, however, that the recent announcement was “very significant,” given Russia’s move would mark the first time since the 1990s that Moscow would store nuclear arms based outside its borders. 

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, an exiled Belarusian politician, said in a Twitter post that Putin’s move “violates the Constitution of Belarus and grossly contradicts the will of the Belarusian people.”

In response to Putin’s statement, the US said it would monitor the situation.

“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture,” the US Defense Department said, per CNN. 

Belarus and Russia have been long-time allies — and the former Soviet republic is generally seen as a Russian puppet state. The country shares a border with both Ukraine and Russia. 

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his regime have backed Putin since the beginning of Russia’s prolonged invasion of Ukraine, as he allowed Russian troops to enter Ukraine over its border.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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