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Ukraine slams Putin's nuclear plan, accuses holding Belarus as 'nuclear hostage'

The US says there aren't any indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon

Russia Belarus relations (File) Russian and Belarusian tanks on exercise | AP

Ukraine on Sunday slammed Russia's plan to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus and alleged Russia is holding Minsk as 'nuclear hostage'. 

A top security adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russian plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus would destabilise that country, which he said had been taken 'hostage' by Moscow. 

The Guardian quoting Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council reported, “The Kremlin took Belarus as a nuclear hostage,” he tweeted. He added it was “a step towards the internal destabilisation of the country.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans on Saturday to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus, a warning to the West as it steps up military support for Ukraine.

Putin said the move was triggered by Britain's decision this past week to provide Ukraine with armour-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium. 

The Russian move was seen as sending a warning to NATO and the West for supporting Ukraine. 

The US responded cautiously to the move. “We have seen reports of Russia’s announcement and will continue to monitor this situation,” The Guardian reported quoting a US defence department’s statement. “We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture nor any indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon. We remain committed to the collective defence of the Nato alliance,” it said in a statement. 

Russia had always taken pride that it had no nuclear weapons outside its territory. The Russian president likened his Belarus plan to the US stationing its weapons in Europe. Russia said it would not be transferring control to Belarus. Belarus shares borders with three Nato members – Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. 

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