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Illustrative purposes only: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko attend a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, in Saint Petersburg on Jan. 29, 2024. (Dmitry Astakhov/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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Belarus will participate in the second stage of Russian drills simulating the launch of tactical nuclear weapons, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin announced on June 10.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced in May it would practice the usage of tactical nuclear weapons in response to purported and unspecified "provocative statements" from the West.

Later on, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Belarus and met Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko to discuss the potential participation of the Belarusian military in Russia's non-strategic nuclear drills.

"We are consistently strengthening our defense capabilities. And our participation in the second stage of the Russian Armed Forces' drills using non-strategic nuclear weapons proves it," Khrenin said in a statement published by the ministry.

Russia allegedly carries out such planned drills to "ensure its own security," while Belarus does not aim to "create tension" in matters of regional security, Khrenin claimed.

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Belarus Weekly

Belarus has been a key ally to Moscow and supported Russian aggression against Ukraine, though it has not committed its own forces directly to hostilities. The country is also reportedly hosting Russian tactical nuclear arms on its territory.

The first stage of the exercises, which were ordered by Putin on May 6, involved missile units in Russia's Southern Military District, including the occupied territories of Ukraine.

Lukashenko ordered a sudden inspection of the country's tactical nuclear weapons launchers the following day. The nuclear weapons allegedly located in Belarus cannot be used without Moscow's authorization.

Putin has repeatedly made nuclear threats against Ukraine and the West since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in February 2022. The threats have failed to materialize, and Russia continues to wage its all-out war without using its nuclear arsenal.

Opinion: Much ado about Russia’s nuclear rumblings?
Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, the Kremlin has sought to play the nuclear card – both to frighten Ukraine and to deter the West from assisting. Kyiv and its partners cannot ignore Moscow’s nuclear threats, but they should understand that the Russian leadership does not
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