NATO criticises Russia's 'hazardous' nuclear rhetoric

Vladimir Putin's decision to install tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus has caused  NATO to condemn Russia's "dangerous" and "irresponsible" language. The organization is "closely monitoring" the situation and has stated that it will not alter its own nuclear strategy in response. 

The United States stated that it did not believe Russia was planning a nuclear attack. Belarus shares a lengthy border with Ukraine, as well as Polish, Lithuanian, and Latvian NATO members. 

Ukraine has requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to address the possible threat posed by Saturday's announcement by President Putin.

President Putin stated that Moscow would not give control of its armaments to Minsk and that Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, a staunch ally of the Kremlin and supporter of its invasion of Ukraine, has addressed the matter with him for a long time. Ukraine asserts that the deployment violates nuclear non-proliferation accords, a claim President Putin refutes and compares to the United States stationing its own weapons in Europe. 

Sunday, NATO called Russia's suggestion of nuclear sharing "misleading." Oana Lungescu, a spokesperson for NATO, stated, "NATO countries uphold their international obligations in full."

The military alliance also accused Russia of consistently violating its own arms control commitments, including the country's decision to suspend the new START treaty - a pact signed in 2010 that limits the number of US and Russian nuclear warheads and gives each country the authority to inspect the other's weapons.

The head of EU foreign policy, Josep Borrell, pushed Belarus to opt out of the pact with Putin, warning that the country would face additional sanctions if it followed through. He mentioned to sources that Belarus can still stop it as it is their choice. Sunday, a top security adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky alleged that Russia is using nuclear weapons to hold Belarus "hostage."

Oleksiy Danilov stated on Twitter that Russia's plans were a "move towards domestic destabilization" in Belarus, predicting that anti-Russian sentiment would increase in the country. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, an exiled Belarusian opposition leader, stated that Russia's deployment of nuclear weapons in her nation "grossly defies the desire of the Belarusian people" and makes it a potential target for retaliation strikes. However, Yuriy Sak, an adviser to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, told the sources that Ukraine was accustomed to Russian nuclear threats and that the deployment in Belarus would not alter the war's conclusion.

As the start of the conflict in 2022, Russia has been stationing military equipment in Belarus, according to Mr. Sak, so Moscow's actions are nothing new. A modest number of tactical Iskander missile systems, which are capable of launching nuclear warheads, have already been handed to Belarus, stated President Putin in his Saturday address. 

This will be the first time since the mid-1990s that Russia has deployed nuclear weapons abroad. Next week, Russia will begin training crews to operate the weapons. The storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus will be completed by July 1, according to President Putin. 

The announcement comes just days after Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow, during which Russia and China issued a joint statement mentioning that all nuclear nations are prohibited from deploying their nuclear weapons outside of their national borders, and they must withdraw all nuclear weapons already deployed overseas.