‘Dangerous and irresponsible’: NATO condemns Putin’s nuclear-arms plan

NATO criticized Moscow for its “dangerous and irresponsible” nuclear rhetoric after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he would deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, reported POLITICO.

“NATO is vigilant, and we are closely monitoring the situation. We have not seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture that would lead us to adjust our own,” Oana Lungescu, spokesperson for the defense alliance, said in a tweet.

The spokesperson criticized comments from Putin on Saturday that likened the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus to the U.S. stationing its nuclear arms in Europe as part of the NATO alliance.

“The United States has been doing this for decades,” Putin said on Saturday in announcing the Russian plan. “They deployed their tactical nuclear weapons long ago on the territories of their allies, NATO countries, in Europe.” He said a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons would be ready in Belarus by July.

“Russia’s reference to NATO’s nuclear sharing is totally misleading,” Lungescu said. “NATO allies act with full respect of their international commitments,” the spokesperson said. “Russia has consistently broken its arms-control commitments, most recently suspending its participation in the New START Treaty.

Belarus borders on three NATO members: Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

The Polish Foreign Ministry on Sunday said Putin’s announcement “further increases tensions over Russian aggression against Ukraine. It is a further step towards drawing Belarus into the cogs of the Russian war machine,” the ministry said in a tweet.

Warsaw also echoed concerns about a violation of nuclear non-proliferation agreements, something that Putin specifically denied in his announcement on Saturday. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, made a similar charge in a tweet, adding in reference to Putin: “Making a statement about tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, he admits that he is afraid of losing.”

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, charged that Russia “took Belarus as a nuclear hostage.