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Ukrainian Intelligence: Putin ‘raising stakes’ with nuclear threats
Russian threats to place nuclear weapons in Belarus are merely an attempt by dictator Vladimir Putin to “raise the stakes,” said Ukrainian military intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov on March 27.
“Defeated on the battlefield in a conventional war, Putin resorts to nuclear blackmail,” said Yusov in comments to Radio Svoboda.
“That is, it is clear that this is an act of trying to raise stakes. Although both the United States and the European Union clearly and unequivocally responded that they do not plan to act on this blackmail."
Putin claimed on March 25 that his country intends to place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus due to the U.K. Defense Ministry's recent move to supply Ukraine with ammunition containing depleted uranium.
In addition, it was announced that the Iskander operational-tactical missile system, which can carry nuclear warheads, will be deployed in Belarus.
Yusov added that back in January, Ukrainian intelligence warned that Putin could use the territory of Belarus for "nuclear provocations."
Ukraine’s allies have also criticized Russia’s alleged plan, calling it "dangerous and irresponsible."
On March 26, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell reacted to Russia’s announcement, calling it an “irresponsible escalation and threat to European security.”
Borrell added that Belarus, which acts as Russia's ally in the war against Ukraine, “can still stop it, it is their choice."
On March 27, Peter Stano, the spokesperson for the European Commission on foreign policy issues, said that the European Union would react if Russia deployed its tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus as announced by Moscow.