Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that the country intends to place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus in retaliation for the UK’s decision to supply Ukraine with armor-piercing shells containing depleted uranium.
Russia has falsely claimed that these shells have nuclear components.
Putin said construction of the weapons storage facilities in the Russian ally, which borders Ukraine and three NATO countries – Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – would be completed by early July.
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He told a Russian state television program that the country would not violate the international agreement on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons by building it because he said the United States frequently deploys its nuclear weapons in NATO countries.
Russia stationed troops in Belarus along its border with Ukraine a year ago under the guise of routine military exercises before invading in February 2022.
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This is not the first time Putin has used nuclear weapons as an intimidation tactic against the West, which has continuously provided Ukraine with monetary and tactical support since the invasion.
Just last month, Putin said he would suspend his nation’s participation in a nuclear weapons treaty, threatening to resume nuclear weapons testing.
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“The elites of the West are not hiding their purpose. But they also cannot fail to realize that it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield,” Putin said almost exactly one year after the start of the invasion, which dragged on much longer than Putin expected due to Ukraine’s determination and Western support.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.