Russia deploying nuclear weapons in Belarus: Lukashenko
Russia has begun deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, the country's president Alexander Lukashenko says.
After a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Lukashenko stated the number of weapons and their storage locations had been decided.
But Lukashenko did not give details.
"I will not talk about the number and the deployment," he told reporters on Thursday.
The Belarusian ruler said Putin had informed him that he had signed a decree on the transfer. According to earlier information, the weapons are to be stationed on the border with Poland.
Belarusian troops began training on nuclear-capable Russian missile systems in April.
Putin has repeatedly warned that Russia, which has more nuclear weapons than any other country, will use all means to defend itself, and he has cast the Ukraine war as a battle for the survival of Russia against an aggressive West.
The United States and its allies say they want Ukraine to defeat Russian forces on the battlefield but deny that they want to destroy Russia - and deny that the Ukraine war is in any way linked to post-Soviet enlargement of NATO.
It is still unclear exactly when the Russian tactical nuclear weapons will be deployed in Belarus, which has borders with three NATO members - Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Russia will remain in control of the weapons.
Tactical nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons used for specific tactical gains on the battlefield, and so are usually smaller in yield than the strategic nuclear weapons designed to destroy the biggest cities of the United States or Russia.
Russia has a huge numerical superiority over the United States and the NATO military alliance when it comes to tactical nuclear weapons: the United States believes Russia has around 2,000 such working tactical warheads.
The US has around 200 such tactical nuclear weapons, half of which are at bases in Europe. These eight-metre B61 nuclear bombs, with different yields of 0.3 to 170 kilotons, are deployed at six air bases across Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands.
with Reuters and AP