Russia is bringing nuclear weapons to NATO’s doorstep in Belarus

Russia will move its tactical nuclear weapons close to Belarus’ western borders, the Russian envoy in Minsk says, placing them at the NATO threshold in a move likely to further escalate Moscow’s standoff with the West.

In one of Russia’s most outspoken nuclear signals since it began its invasion of Ukraine 13 months ago, President Vladimir Putin said on March 26 that Russia will station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

The two Slav neighbors are formally part of a “union state” and have been in talks for years to further integrate, a process that has gained momentum after Minsk allowed Moscow last year to use Belarusian territory to send troops to Ukraine .

The weapons “will be moved to the western border of our union state and will increase the possibilities to ensure security,” Russia’s ambassador to Belarus Boris Gryzlov told Belarusian state television.

“This will happen despite the noise in Europe and the United States.”

Gryzlov did not specify where the weapons will be stationed, but confirmed that a storage facility will be completed on July 1, ordered by Putin, and then moved to western Belarus.

Belarus borders Lithuania and Latvia to the north and Poland to the west, all part of NATO’s eastern flank that has been reinforced with additional troops and military equipment following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The US and Kiev’s other allies have said they are concerned about the possibility of Russia sending tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, with President Joe Biden saying it was “concerning”.

President Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday that Belarus would also allow Russia to deploy intercontinental nuclear missiles if necessary.