Ukraine announced, on Sunday, that Russia had taken Belarus as a “nuclear hostage”, in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of the deployment of “tactical” nuclear weapons on the territory of its ally.
“The Kremlin has taken Belarus as a nuclear hostage,” wrote the Secretary of the Security Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, on Twitter, adding that this decision is “a step towards internal destabilization in the country.”
The Russian president’s announcement “increases the level of negative perception and general rejection of Russia and Mr. Putin in Belarusian society,” suggests Mr. Danilov.
Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that he has the Minsk agreement to deploy “tactical” nuclear weapons in Belarus, the country on the gates of the European Union and led since 1994 by Alexander Lukashenko, his closest ally.
If Belarus is not directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine, Moscow has used its territory to lead its offensive into Kiev last year or to carry out strikes, according to Ukrainian authorities.
Russian officials have repeatedly issued veiled threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine if the conflict escalates significantly.
Vladimir Putin’s decision on Saturday was motivated by the UK’s desire to send depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine, a British official recently stated.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter on Sunday that Putin “admits that he is afraid of losing (the war) and that all he can do is fear.”
He also accused the Russian president of “violating the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.”
In his announcement, Mr. Putin specified that this deployment in Belarus would take place “without violating our international agreements on nuclear non-proliferation.”