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Lukashenko claims transfer of Russian nukes to Belarus underway
According to Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, the transfer of some Russian tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus has already begun, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Belarusian service reported on May 25, citing Belarusian state media.
"It was necessary to prepare storage sites, and so on," Lukashenko said. "We did all this. Therefore, the movement of nuclear weapons began."
When asked by a reporter whether the missiles were already in Belarus, the dictator responded: "Maybe. I will come and see."
Lukashenko also assured the safety of the weapons in Belarus, saying: “Don’t worry about nuclear weapons. We are responsible for this. These are serious issues. Everything will be all right here.”
Earlier the same day, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Belarusian counterpart Viktor Khrenin signed documents on placing Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory.
Control over the weaponry and decision on its use remains with Moscow, Shoigu reportedly said during the meeting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened on March 25 that Moscow intends to place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus for training, the latest in Moscow's series of nuclear threats against Ukraine and the West.
According to the Kremlin, Lukashenko asked for the placement himself, while Belarus's Foreign Ministry said that the regime was "forced" to do so amid so-called "unprecedented political, economic, and informational pressure" from the U.S., U.K., EU members, and NATO allies.
Western countries and NATO denounced the move, calling it “dangerous and irresponsible.”