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Belarus Starts Deploying Russian Nuclear Weapons


Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks to reporters in the Minsk Region, Belarus June 13, 2023. (Press Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus/Handout via REUTERS)
Belarus Starts Deploying Russian Nuclear Weapons
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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said his country has started receiving Russian tactical nuclear weapons. He added that some of them were three times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The move is Russia's first deployment of nuclear weapons outside the country after the fall of the Soviet Union. The shorter-range, less powerful nuclear weapons could possibly be used on the battlefield.

"We have missiles and bombs that we have received from Russia," Lukashenko told Russian state TV broadcaster Rossiya-1. "The bombs are three times more powerful than those (dropped on) Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Lukashenko spoke to the broadcaster in a forest clearing with military vehicles and some kind of military structure in the background. His comment was also posted on the Telegram account of Belarusian state news agency Belta.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia would start deploying them in Belarus after storage facilities to house them were made ready. And Russia would keep control of the tactical nuclear weapons.

In March, the Russian leader said that the United States has deployed such weapons in several European countries over many years.

The U.S. has criticized Putin's decision but said it has not seen any signs that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon. The Russian move, however, is being watched closely by the U.S. and its allies. China, another nuclear power, has repeatedly warned against the use of nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine.

“We have always been a target”

Lukashenko, a close ally of Russia, has ruled Belarus since 1994.

He has repeatedly accused Western nations of trying to oust him after mass protests against his rule took place in 2020. At the time, the opposition accused Lukashenko of cheating in the presidential election. Lukashenko said he had won fairly while suppressing his opponents.

The former Soviet Union official said he did not simply ask Putin for the weapons, but "demanded" them. "We have always been a target," Lukashenko said. "They (the West) have wanted to tear us to pieces since 2020. No one has so far fought against a nuclear country, a country that has nuclear weapons."

Lukashenko told Russian state TV that his country had several nuclear storage facilities left over from the days of the Soviet Union. He said five or six of them had been repaired.

He said Russian control of the weapons does not mean they cannot be used quickly. He noted that he and Putin could talk to each other "at any moment".

Lukashenko has permitted his country to be used by Russian forces to attack Ukraine. He now says that the nuclear deployment will act to prevent aggression from other countries.

Besides Ukraine, Belarus borders three NATO member countries: Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.

Lidia Kelly and Andrew Osborn adapted this Reuters report for VOA Learning English. Hai Do adapted the story for Learning English.

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Words in This Story

tactical – adj. relating to a specific plan to achieve a goal in war, politics...

facility - n. something that is built for a specific purpose

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