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US diplomat: Putin's plans to deploy nukes in Belarus violate Russia-China declaration

by The Kyiv Independent news desk March 31, 2023 9:33 PM 3 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with China's President Xi Jinping at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 20, 2023. (Photo by Sergei Karpukhin/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

Robert Wood, a top U.S. representative in the UN said on March 31 that Russia's plans to deploy nuclear weapons would go against a Russia-Chinese joint statement released on March 21 calling for an end to all steps that contribute to "the escalation of tension."

"Less than two weeks ago, President Putin, in a joint statement with the People's Republic of China, pledged to reduce the risks of nuclear war effectively," Wood said.

Wood also noted that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin constantly ignores obligations under treaties.

Following Russia’s threats to place its nuclear weapons in Belarus, Mao Ning, a spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, said that the issue had to be settled “diplomatically,” Sina media outlet reported on March 27.

Mao again called Russia’s war against Ukraine a “Ukrainian crisis,” stressing that all sides should focus on resolving it “peacefully.”

At the same time, Mao noted that in January 2022, the leaders of the  five nuclear countries made a joint statement that stressed that "wars between nuclear-weapon states should be avoided and strategic risks should be reduced."

On March 25, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin threatened to place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus for alleged training purposes – the latest in a series of nuclear threats by the Kremlin against Ukraine and the West.

Belarus' Foreign Ministry confirmed the claim on March 28.

The Russian leader claimed that the decision was made due to the U.K. Defense Ministry's recent decision to supply Ukraine with ammunition containing depleted uranium. U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly countered the Russians claims by saying, "just because the word uranium is in the title of depleted uranium munitions, they are not nuclear munitions, they are purely conventional munitions."

Putin further warned that aircraft and Iskander missile systems that can carry nuclear weapons are already in Belarus, claiming that it is no different from "the U.S. and Europe" placing their weapons on ally's soil.

“We are not transferring our tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, but we will deploy them and train the military, like the United States in Europe,” Putin said in an interview with a Russian state-controlled news outlet.

Putin claimed that the agreement had already been made with Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko, who the Russian leader claims have "long" been asking for tactical nuclear weapons to be placed in the country's territory.

Putin said the "special storage facility" for tactical nuclear weapons would be ready by July 1.

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko in an address to the nation on March 31 spoke of the possibility of placing Russian strategic nuclear weapons in Belarus.

“If necessary, Putin and I will decide and place strategic nuclear weapons here [Belarus]. The scoundrels who are abroad today trying to undermine us from the inside and outside must understand this,” Lukashenko said.

Steven Pifer: Russian nukes in Belarus - much ado about little?
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in the op-ed section are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of the Kyiv Independent. In a March 25 interview, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus for use by the Belarusian milit…
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