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Tipsheet

NATO Responds to Putin's Latest Nuclear Announcement

Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

NATO ripped Vladimir Putin on Sunday following the Russian president’s announcement that he plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

"Russia's nuclear rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in response. 

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Still, Western leaders did not see reason to change their own nuclear positions. 

"NATO is vigilant and we are closely monitoring the situation,” Lungescu added. “We have not seen any changes in Russia's nuclear posture that would lead us to adjust our own."

The U.S. also downplayed Putin’s plan.

"I can tell you we've seen nothing that would indicate Mr. Putin is preparing to use tactical nuclear weapons in any way whatsoever in Ukraine," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

"And I can also tell you that we haven't seen anything that would cause us to change our own strategic nuclear deterrent posture,” Kirby continued. 

On Saturday, Putin told Russian state television that Moscow would deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus later this year following a request from Minsk. He said the plan would not violate Russia’s nuclear nonproliferation agreements — and likened the move to the United States stationing nuclear weapons in Europe. [...]

Putin said: “We have agreed [with Belarus] that we will do the same thing. Without violating, I want to stress this, our international obligations on nuclear weapons nonproliferation. On July 1, we will finish building a special storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.”

Russia, he said, would help Minsk refurbish aircraft to carry the weapons and had already transferred several Iskander missile systems to Belarus. (The Washington Post)

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Lungescu said Putin's statement was "totally misleading."

"Russia's reference to NATO's nuclear sharing is totally misleading. NATO allies act with full respect of their international commitments," she noted. "Russia has consistently broken its arms control commitments."

Ukraine's security chief, Oleksiy Danilov, meanwhile, accused Russia of trying to destabilize Belarus.


 

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