(RoyalPatriot.com )- In an interview on Russian state TV Saturday night, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russian tactical nuclear weapons would be stationed in neighboring Belarus, the Associated Press reported.
Putin said that Russia would maintain control of them and that construction of the storage facilities should be completed by July 1.
Tactical nukes have a shorter range and lower yield than nuclear warheads used on long-range missiles. While the Russian president did not specify how many tactical nukes would be stationed in Belarus, the US government believes that Russia has around 2,000 in its arsenal, including nukes that can be deployed from aircraft, as artillery rounds, and from short-range missiles.
Putin argued that Russia is only following the lead of the United States by deploying tactical nukes in Belarus, noting that for decades, the United States has stationed nuclear weapons in allied countries while preparing “launch platforms” and training crews.
Putin said on Saturday that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has long requested that Russia station nuclear weapons in his country to counter NATO. He said last year, Russia helped to modernize Belarusian military planes so they were capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Ten of these planes are ready to go, Putin added.
Additionally, the tactical nuclear weapons could also be launched by the short-range Iskander missiles Russia provided to Belarus in 2022.
While the move was not entirely unexpected, the placement of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus is the most overt nuclear signal from Moscow since the war in Ukraine began last year.
The reaction from the United States was cautious.
In a statement this weekend, the spokeswoman for the Biden National Security Council said the US has seen no reason to adjust its “strategic nuclear posture” over Putin’s move, adding that the US has seen no indication that Moscow is “preparing to use a nuclear weapon.”