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Russia spells out conditions for removing its nuclear weapons from Belarus

The Iskander missile, a short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile that has been in the Russian arsenal for more than a decade. — AFP/File

A senior member of the Russian foreign ministry revealed Monday that Kremlin may consider removing its tactical nuclear weapons from Belarus if the US and NATO change their antagonistic approaches to Minsk and Moscow.

According to Aleksey Polishchuk — in charge of the division that manages relations with Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine — Russia’s decision to station nuclear weapons in Belarus was a necessary measure to bolster the security of both Moscow and Minsk in an interview with RIA Novosti, published on Monday.

According to Polishchuk, Russia supplied nuclear weapons to Belarus “in response to years-long destabilising nuclear policies by NATO and Washington, as well as the fundamental changes that have recently taken place in key areas of European security.”

Nevertheless, if the US and NATO change their destructive course, remove America’s nuclear armament from Europe, and demolish the infrastructure for it, the weapons might be removed, according to Polishchuk.

Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed the decision to station nuclear weapons in Belarus in late March, claiming it was in response to the UK’s intentions to supply Ukraine with depleted uranium munitions — a move that Moscow deemed dangerous and irresponsible, Belarus News reported.

Additionally, Putin vowed that Moscow would maintain control of the weapons and noted that Moscow’s actions were not very different from those of the US, adding that the required infrastructure would be ready by early July.

Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey are the five European NATO nations that currently host American tactical nuclear weapons.

American tactical nuclear weapons are currently stationed in five European NATO countries — Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye.

Moreover, Minsk frequently requested that Russia place nuclear weapons on its soil in the months before Putin’s declaration, citing hostile Western policies towards Belarus and the alleged threat posed by US nuclear weapons in Europe.

Midway through June, Putin claimed that Belarus had already received the first Russian nuclear warheads.

His Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, later corroborated this claim and said that the weapons had been transported in a fashion that would disguise their movements from the West.

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