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Shoigu Explains Why Russia Is Positioning Nuclear Weapons in Belarus

May 27, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin in Minsk on May 25, where they discussed closer military cooperation between the two countries. The agenda included the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons onto Belarusian soil.

“In the circumstances of an extremely sharp escalation of threats and activity of NATO joint nuclear missions, we are compelled to take retaliatory measures in the military-nuclear sphere,” Shoigu said, reported the Russian Defense Ministry on its Telegram channel. “The deployment of Russian Federation non-strategic nuclear weapons on the territory of the Republic of Belarus has been planned in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Federation.” He noted that this includes providing Iskander M ballistic missiles to Belarus and upgrading some Belarusian combat aircraft to carry Russian nuclear weapons.

Shoigu elaborated, reported RT, that “NATO is using the Ukraine crisis as an excuse to build up its forces in Eastern Europe and deploy weapons which are being aimed at Russia and Belarus.” Furthermore, Shoigu stated, there is “increasingly aggressive rhetoric and joint ‘nuclear missions’ of NATO countries in Eastern Europe,” that includes testing the use of nuclear weapon delivery vehicles and improving the U.S. global missile defense system.

RT wrote that “Shoigu stressed that these missions, along with deliveries of depleted uranium to Ukraine, are forcing Russia and Belarus to take appropriate response measures.... The minister noted that given the new military-political realities, Russia and Belarus have been strengthening their collective defensive capabilities.”

Shoigu stressed, however, that Russia will retain operational control of non-strategic nuclear weapons in Belarus. “Russia is not transferring nuclear weapons to the Republic of Belarus: control over them and the decision on their use remains with the Russian side,” he said, when signing the documents outlining the process for storing Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons in a special facility on the Belarus territory.

U.S. President Joe Biden, when asked about the Russia-Belarusian nuclear agreement yesterday, said that his reaction was “extremely negative.” The Russian Embassy in Washington responded to Biden’s comment:

“We would like to emphasize that it is the sovereign right of Russia and Belarus to ensure their security by means we deem necessary amidst a large-scale hybrid war unleashed by Washington against us.... The measures we undertake are fully consistent with our international legal obligations. As Minister of Defense, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu stated, Russia is not transferring nuclear weapons to Belarus: the control over them and decision on their use remain with the Russian side.

“Before blaming others, Washington could use some introspection,” the statement concluded. “The United States has been for decades maintaining a large arsenal of its nuclear weapons in Europe. Together with its NATO allies it participates in nuclear sharing arrangements and trains for scenarios of nuclear weapons use against our country.”

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