Putin claimed to have had Minsk’s agreement to deploy “tactical” nuclear weapons in Belarus. While Ukraine wants an emergency meeting of the Security Council and NATO has reacted, the EU is brandishing the threat of sanctions.
The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell warned on Sunday that the European Union was “ready” to adopt new sanctions against Belarus if this country deployed Russian nuclear weapons on its territory.
“Belarus’ hosting of Russian nuclear weapons would be an irresponsible escalation and a threat to European security. Belarus can still stop this, it’s their choice. The EU stands ready to react with new sanctions,” Josep Borrell said on Twitter.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Moscow would deploy “tactical” nuclear weapons on the territory of its ally, Belarus, a country located at the gates of the European Union.
“Russia’s nuclear rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible,” NATO said on Sunday.
“NATO is vigilant and we are monitoring the situation closely,” Alliance spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said. “We have not seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture that would cause us to adjust ours,” she said.
Russian officials have repeatedly issued thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine if the conflict escalates significantly. Led since 1994 by Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus borders Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania.
The EU announced at the end of February the extension of its sanctions against Belarus for one year because of the repression carried out by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko and its support for the war led by Russia in Ukraine.
President Alexander Lukashenko and 194 other figures close to the regime have been banned from the EU and their assets have been frozen.
In addition, 34 entities have been sanctioned and all European funding is prohibited.
Belarus is also subject to targeted economic sanctions, including restrictions in the financial sector, trade, dual-use goods, telecommunications, energy, transport.
“There is Nothing Unusual”
Vladimir Putin justified the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus by the deployments of American weapons in Europe.
“There is nothing unusual here: the United States has been doing this for decades. They have long been deploying their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allies,” the Russian president said. “We agreed to do the same,” he added, adding that he had the Minsk agreement.
“Russia’s reference to NATO nuclear sharing is totally misleading. NATO allies act in full respect of their international commitments. Russia has continued to violate its arms control commitments, recently suspending its participation in the new Start treaty, ”reacted the NATO spokesperson.
“Russia must return to respecting its commitments and act in good faith,” added Oana Lungescu.
This article is originally published on lesoir.be