Ukraine calls for UN action over planned nuclear weapon deployment in Belarus

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Ukraine has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council over Russia’s announcement that it would station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry said: “Ukraine expects effective actions to counteract the Kremlin’s nuclear blackmail from the United Kingdom, China, the United States and France. We demand that an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council be immediately convened for this purpose.”

Putin defends deployment

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the move was triggered by Britain’s decision to provide Ukraine with munitions containing depleted uranium.

“Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko has long raised the question of deploying Russian tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus,” he said. “There is nothing unusual here either. First, the United States has been doing this for decades. They have long placed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries, NATO countries in Europe.”

Ten aircraft capable of carrying the armaments – which are designed for use on the battlefield, rather than to wipe out cities – have reportedly already been moved to Belarus.

Nato ‘vigilant’

It is the first time since the mid-90s that Russia has based such arms outside its own territory.

Nato has criticised Russia for its “dangerous and irresponsible” nuclear rhetoric, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Reuters reports.

A Nato spokesperson said on Sunday: “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.”