Belarus official: The West has left us no choice but to deploy nuclear weapons

Belarus official: The West has left us no choice but to deploy nuclear weapons

(Reuters) – A senior Belarusian official was quoted as saying on Sunday that Western countries had left Belarus with no choice but to deploy Russian tactical nuclear weapons and had better be careful not to “cross red lines” on key strategic issues.

It was logical to withdraw the weapons after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, as the United States provided security guarantees and imposed no sanctions, said Aleksandr Volfovich, State Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus.

“Today everything has been demolished. All promises made are gone forever,” Volfovic was quoted by the Belta news agency as telling an interviewer on state television.

Belarus, led by President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, is Russia’s staunchest ally among the countries of the former Soviet Union and allowed its territory to be used to launch the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Last week, Russia advanced the decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil with the aim of achieving specific gains on the battlefield.

Russia says its “special military operation” in Ukraine was aimed at countering what it says is a drive from the “collective West” to launch a proxy war and defeat Moscow.

“The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus is therefore one of the steps of strategic deterrence. If there is any reason left in the heads of Western politicians, they, of course, will not cross this red line,” said Volvovich.

He said that any resort to the use of “even tactical nuclear weapons will lead to irreversible consequences.”

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Lukashenko said last week that the weapons were already on the way, but it was not yet clear when they would be in place.

The United States has condemned the possible deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus, but says its position on the use of such weapons has not changed.

Western sanctions were imposed on Belarus long before the invasion in connection with Lukashenko’s crackdown on human rights, particularly the crackdown on mass protests against what his opponents described as his rigged re-election in 2020.

After independence from Soviet rule, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan agreed to remove their weapons and return them to Russia as part of international efforts to contain the spread.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski) Editing by Mark Porter

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