A day after the Russian president, Vladmir Putin declared he would place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, worsening a standoff with the West, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has criticised him for his nuclear rhetoric.
Ukraine requested a meeting of the UN Security Council in reaction to the plan, which is one of Russia’s most blatant nuclear signals since the beginning of its invasion of Ukraine 13 months ago.
Oana Lungescu, a spokeswoman for NATO, said on Sunday that Russia’s nuclear rhetoric was reckless and risky.
“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.”
In his remarks on Saturday, Putin insisted that Russia would not go back on its commitment to nuclear non-proliferation while equating the action to the United States stationing its weapons in Europe.
NATO criticised Putin’s non-proliferation promise and his description of American weapon deployment abroad, saying they were grossly inaccurate, while Washington, the other nuclear superpower, downplayed concerns about Putin’s announcement.
“Russia’s reference to NATO’s nuclear sharing is totally misleading. NATO allies act with full respect of their international commitments,” Lungescu said in a statement. “Russia has consistently broken its arms control commitments.”
Oleksiy Danilov, a senior security advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, claimed that Belarus, which Moscow had allegedly taken hostage would be destabilised by Russia’s plot.
In reaction to Russia’s proposal, Lithuania declared on Sunday that it would request fresh sanctions against Minsk and Moscow.
According to a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, Lithuania will request that the extra sanctions be added to a list of punishments being discussed in Brussels.
Experts deemed Russia’s action to be important because up until this point, it had taken pride in the fact that, unlike the United States, it did not station nuclear weapons outside of its borders. It might be the first time it has done so since the middle of the 1990s.