Moscow, Russia: Belarus said on Tuesday it was forced to host Russian nuclear weapons because of “unprecedented” Western pressure, insisting their deployment did not violate international agreements.
Over the weekend Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Moscow’s ally, drawing condemnation from the West.
“Belarus is forced to respond to strengthen its own security and defense capabilities,” the Foreign Ministry said in Minsk.
It said Minsk was subjected to “unprecedented” political and economic pressure from the US and its allies.
Belarus said it would not have arms control and would “in no way conflict” with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Minsk allowed Russia to use its territory as a launch pad for Moscow’s offensive against Ukraine last year.
Both countries have held military exercises on Belarusian territory and increased cooperation between their militaries.
“Military cooperation between Belarus and Russia is carried out strictly in accordance with international law,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Putin’s plans to put nuclear weapons on the EU’s doorstep have prompted calls for new sanctions against Moscow.
As fears of a nuclear war have grown since Putin sent troops into Ukraine, experts believe any Russian strike is likely to involve “tactical” small-scale warheads as opposed to “strategic” high-yield long-range nuclear weapons.
Authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994. The West has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Minsk over political dissent and a crackdown on its role in Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine.