Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stands while listening to the Ukrainian national anthem upon his arrival at the European Parliament on February 9, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.
Omar Havana | Getty Images
NATO condemned Russia’s “dangerous and irresponsible” nuclear rhetoric Sunday after Pres Vladimir Putin shared plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
Putin announced the deal during an interview on Russian television on Saturday, and he said it will not violate non-proliferation treaties. He said the announcement is “nothing out of the ordinary” and that the US has done something similar by stationing weapons in Europe, which a NATO spokesman called “completely misleading”.
“NATO allies act 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 that the US and Russia can deploy. Putin announced in February that Russia will suspend its participation in the treaty.
The NATO spokesperson added that there have been no changes in Russia’s nuclear posture that have prompted NATO to adjust its own.
After Putin’s announcement on Saturday, Ukraine called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Ukraine’s foreign ministry said Sunday it expects “effective measures” to address Russia’s threat of nuclear aggression.
“Russia reaffirms its chronic inability to be a responsible steward of nuclear weapons as a means of deterrence and prevention of war, and not as a tool of threat and intimidation,” the ministry said in a statement. “The world must unite against the one who 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 are no signs that Putin has followed through on the deal with Belarus or moved any nuclear weapons. He added that Putin has not suggested any intention to use nuclear weapons, “period,” but that the United States continues 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 that placing tactical nuclear weapons there will cause unrest in the nation.
“Putin’s statement about placing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus – a step towards internal destabilization of the country – maximizes the level of negative perception and public rejection of Russia and Putin in Belarusian society,” wrote Oleksiy Danilov early Sunday morning.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, wrote that the EU “stands ready” impose additional sanctions against Russia. He called Russia’s announcement an “irresponsible escalation” and a threat to European security.
Mykhailo Podolyak, Advisor to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyysaid Putin is “too predictable” in a tweet Sunday.
“When he makes a statement about tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, he admits that he is afraid of losing and all he can do is scare tactics,” he wrote.