Published on March 27, 2023 at 9:05 am
The nuclear threat is omnipresent in the war in Ukraine, between the bombardments on the Zaporijjia power plant and the repeated threats by Vladimir Putin to resort to nuclear weapons in the event of an escalation of the conflict.
A new level has just been crossed: Russia has announced that it will deploy “tactical nuclear weapons” on the territory of its neighbor and ally, Belarus.
A worrying announcement, which made kyiv react. “Ukraine is waiting for effective actions to counter the nuclear blackmail of the Kremlin from the United Kingdom, China, the United States and France,” claimed the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, quoted by AFP .
Ukraine is calling for an extraordinary meeting of the United Nations Security Council so that sanctions are taken as quickly as possible against Russia.
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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also asks the G7 and the European Union to put pressure on Belarus so that it refuses the deployment of Russian weapons on its territory.
Germany was the first to react by denouncing “a new attempt at nuclear intimidation”. NATO condemned “dangerous and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric”, while Oleksiï Danilov, the secretary of the Ukrainian Security Council, estimated on Sunday that the Kremlin had taken Belarus “as a nuclear hostage”.
Mykhailo Podoliak, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, accused him of “violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty”.
Russia also suspended its participation in New Start, a nuclear disarmament treaty signed with the United States, while promising to respect the limitation of its nuclear arsenal until February 2026.
Despite the outcry aroused by his decision, Vladimir Putin remains unperturbed. According to him, there is “nothing unusual” in his announcement. “The United States has been doing this for decades. They have long deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allies. We agreed to do the same”.
Belarus is not actively involved in the war in Ukraine but the country, ruled with an iron fist since 1994 by Alexander Lukashenko, is a long-time ally of Russia. Since the beginning of the conflict, a little over a year ago, Belarus has allowed the passage of Russian troops to Ukraine or authorized the firing of Russian missiles from its territory.