Biden reacts to Russia moving tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus
US President Joe Biden has told journalists that he feels “extremely negative” about Russian tactical nuclear weapons being stationed in Belarus.
Biden’s comment, which was reported by Reuters, came hours after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced that “the deployment of nuclear munitions has already begun.”
Russia shouldn’t worry about the safety of its weapons as the Belarusians, being “practical and thrifty people,” will be able to keep them safe, Lukashenko added.
The Russian embassy in Washington responded to the reaction from the White House by pointing out that “it is the sovereign right of Russia and Belarus to ensure their security by means we deem necessary amidst a large-scale hybrid war unleashed by Washington against us.”
Moscow’s actions are “fully consistent with our international legal obligations,” the embassy said on Telegram on Saturday. Tactical nuclear weapons aren’t being transferred to Belarus, “the control over them and decision on their use remain with the Russian side,” it said.
“Before blaming others, Washington could use some introspection. The US has been for decades maintaining a large arsenal of its nuclear weapons in Europe,” Russian diplomats suggested.
At the moment, American tactical nuclear weapons are present on the territory of five European NATO countries – Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced that tactical nuclear weapons would be stationed in Belarus in late March. He said the move had been prompted by the UK’s decision to provide Ukraine with depleted uranium munitions amid the conflict between Moscow and Kiev.
Belarus had been asking its closest ally Russia to deploy nuclear weapons on its territory, citing aggressive Western policies towards the country and the perceived threat posed by US nuclear weapons deployed in neighboring European countries.
Moscow and Minsk sealed an agreement that allows Russian tactical nuclear weapons to be stationed in Belarus on Thursday. According to Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Russia has provided the Belarusian military with nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles and has helped the country to modify some of its fighter jets so they can carry nuclear weapons.