In a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday, June 9, 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow will deploy some of its tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus next month.
The move comes amid escalating tensions in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has been supporting separatist rebels since 2014. Putin said that the facilities for the nuclear weapons will be ready by July 7-8, and they will be moved to Belarus shortly after that.
He added that Russia will retain control of the weapons, which are intended to destroy enemy troops and weapons on the battlefield.
The planned deployment of the short-range nuclear weapons in Belarus has been widely seen as a warning to the West, which has increased its military support for Ukraine.
Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya condemned the move as a “rude blackmail” and an attempt to force Europe to back down.