Lukashenko says Belarus may deploy strategic nukes
Moscow, Mar 31 (EFE).- Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday refused to rule out asking Russia to deploy strategic nuclear weapons in the country, after welcoming the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons last week.
In an annual address to the parliament, the president said that he and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin would jointly decide on deploying strategic nuclear weapons in Belarus, if the need arose.
The leader warned foreign powers against trying to “destabilize” the situation, and said Minsk and Moscow would not stop at anything for defending “our countries and our people.”.
Speaking at a gathering of around 2,500 lawmakers, officials and diplomats at the capital’s Palace of the Republic, Lukashenko said that Belarus would protect and ensure its sovereignty and independence by all means possible, including nuclear arms.
Last week, Putin had announced an agreement with Belarus – its biggest ally in the war in Ukraine – for deploying tactical nuclear weapons in the latter’s territory.
As per the timeline announced by the Russian president, training of Belarusian military personnel in the handling of the nukes will begin on April 3, and the construction of a silo in Belarus suitable for storing the weapons should be complete by July 1.
Putin initially said that Moscow took the decision after the United Kingdom announced that it will supply Ukraine with depleted uranium (DU) shells as tank munitions,
However, later he insisted that the United States had deployed nuclear arms in Europe for decades, and that Minsk had asked for their deployment repeatedly.
On Friday, Lukashenko claimed that Belarus already possessed the infrastructure required for housing tactical nuclear weapons.
With respect to strategic nukes, the Belarussian president called for restoring infrastructure for the deployment of Russia’s Topol ballistic missiles.
He stressed that Minsk also had other options for defending its territory apart from nuclear weapons, and would use all means within its reach in case of a threat. EFE