The Belarusian leader has called on other post-Soviet nations to join Moscow and Minsk in the Union State
Any post-Soviet nation seeking to add an additional layer to its defenses through hosting nuclear weapons on its territory should develop closer ties to Moscow, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told Russia 1 TV Channel in an interview aired on Sunday. Those contemplating such a possibility might potentially need to join the Union State of Russia and Belarus, he added.
“No one is against Kazakhstan or other nations having just as close relations to the Russian Federation as we have,” Lukashenko told Russia 1’s Pavel Zarubin when asked about Astana’s recent comment on the level of relations between Moscow and Minsk that allows the two neighbors share the nuclear shield.
“One needs to join the Union State of Russia and Belarus, then there will be nuclear weapons for everyone,” he added. “We need to understand that we have a unique strategic chance to unite,” the president maintained. Lukashenko then added that he was merely expressing his own opinion that might not necessarily align with that of the Russians.
Earlier this week, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev noted that the level of integration between Russia and Belarus is different from that between these two nations and other members of the Eurasian Economic Union, which also includes Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. He then particularly pointed to Russia and Belarus supposedly “having one nuclear weapon for both of them.”
Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced that tactical nuclear weapons would be stationed in Belarus in late March. On Saturday, Lukashenko announced that “the deployment of nuclear munitions has already begun.” Russia repeatedly stated that the weapons are not handed over to Belarus since Moscow retains full control over them and would take any decision on their potential use on its own.
The news about the deployment sparked criticism from Washington. The US President Joe Biden has told journalists that he feels “extremely negative” about the development. The Russian embassy in Washington responded by saying it was Russia’s “sovereign right” to take such a decision to strengthen the security of its ally. It also pointed to the US nuclear arsenal stationed in Europe.
At the moment, American tactical nuclear weapons are present on the territory of five European NATO countries – Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye.