War in Ukraine: Russia Begins Transfer of Nuclear Weapons to Belarus

I amBelarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday that Russia had begun transferring nuclear weapons to his country, fulfilling a deployment announced by Vladimir Putin in March.

Russia did not immediately comment on its role.

Responding to a question from a Russian journalist in a video broadcast by the Belarusian president’s unofficial Telegram channel, Bull Bervoko, Lukashenko said: “The exchange of nuclear charges has begun, it has already begun.”

“Maybe I’ll go back and I’ll see,” said the key Russian ally.

Mr. Lukashenko explained that Mr. Putin had told him earlier in the day that he had signed a decree authorizing the transfer.

The Russian president announced on March 25 that Moscow would deploy “tactical” nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus, which sits at the gateway to the European Union, fueling fears of an escalation of conflict in Ukraine.

The announcement sparked criticism from the international community, particularly Westerners, who have raised the prospect of using nuclear weapons since the Russian leader launched an attack on its Ukrainian neighbor in February 2022.

Exiled dissident Svetlana Tikanovskaya on Thursday denounced a threat to the entire European continent.

“This does not endanger the lives of Belarusians, but creates a new threat to Ukraine across Europe,” Svetlana Tikanovskaya wrote on Twitter.

“For tactical nuclear weapons, most are as powerful as the one that killed 140,000 people in Hiroshima,” he added.

So-called “tactical” nuclear weapons can cause the greatest damage, but their radius of destruction is less than that of “strategic” nuclear weapons.

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In early April, Russia said it had begun training the Belarusian military in the use of “tactical” nuclear weapons.

And Mr. Putin has indicated in the past that Belarus already has ten aircraft equipped to use such weapons, and that a special warehouse will be completed by July 1.

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