Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stands while listening to the Ukrainian national anthem upon his arrival at the European Parliament on February 09, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.
Omar Havana | Getty Images
NATO on Sunday condemned Russia’s “dangerous and irresponsible” nuclear rhetoric after President Vladimir Putin announced his intention to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
Putin announced the deal during an interview on Russian television on Saturday, and he said he would not violate non-proliferation agreements. He said the announcement was “nothing out of the ordinary” and that the United States had done something similar by stationing weapons in Europe, which a NATO spokesman called ” totally misleading”.
“NATO allies are acting in full respect of their international commitments,” the spokesperson told NBC News. “Russia has consistently broken its arms control commitments, most recently suspending its participation in the New START treaty.”
The New START treaty sets a limit on the number of strategic warheads the United States and Russia can deploy. Putin announced in February that Russia would suspend its participation in the treaty.
The NATO spokesman added that there had been no changes in Russia’s nuclear posture that caused NATO to adjust its own.
Following Putin’s announcement on Saturday, Ukraine called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday it expected “effective actions” to deal with threats of nuclear aggression from Russia.
“Russia once again confirms its chronic failure to be a responsible custodian of nuclear weapons as a deterrent and preventative of war, not as a tool of threat and intimidation,” the ministry said in a statement. “The world must unite against whoever threatens the future of human civilization.”
In an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said there was no indication that Putin followed through on the Belarus deal or moved nuclear weapons. He added that Putin had not suggested any intention to use nuclear weapons, “period”, but that the United States continued to monitor the situation closely.
Government officials around the world took to Twitter to condemn Putin’s announcement on Sunday. A Ukrainian national security official said in a tweet that Russia has taken Belarus as a “nuclear hostage” and placing tactical nuclear weapons there will cause unrest in the nation.
“Putin’s statement on the placement of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus – a step towards the internal destabilization of the country – maximizes the level of negative perception and public rejection of Russia and Putin in Belarusian society,” Oleksiy wrote. Danilov early Sunday morning.
The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, wrote that the EU “stands ready” to enact new sanctions against Russia. He called Russia’s announcement an “irresponsible escalation” and a threat to European security.
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Putin was “too predictable” in a tweet on Sunday.
“While making a statement about tactical nukes in Belarus, he admits he is afraid of losing and all he can do is scare with tactics,” he wrote.