Belarus would use nuclear weapons in the event of NATO or Ukrainian “aggression”, according to its deranged leader Aleksandr Lukashenko.
In July, Lukashenko was given tactical nuclear weapons by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Although the nukes are said to be under Moscow’s control, in the past Lukashenko has claimed he can order their use.
“We didn’t bring nuclear weapons here in order to scare someone,” Lukashenko said in an interview with state news agency Belta.
He warned: “Yes, nuclear weapons represent a strong deterring factor. But these are tactical nuclear weapons, not strategic ones. This is why we will use them immediately once aggression is launched against us.”
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US defence officials have said that they believe Russia retains control over its nuclear weapons stationed in the country.
The harrowing comments come amid skyrocketing tensions in the region after Belarus launched large military drills on Poland’s border.
Adding to the volatility, Wagner fighters are stationed in Belarus following an aborted coup attempt in Russia by mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin earlier this year.
Warsaw has warned that Wagner fighters could cross its border disguised as migrants to engage in “hybrid warfare” there.
Citing concerns over the mercenary group setting up shop in its backyard, Poland announced it would move 10,000 troops to the border with Belarus while arresting two Russians Warsaw has accused of being spies.
Lithuania – another NATO member which borders Belarus – announced it was suspending activities at four out of six border checkpoints citing “emerging threats to national security and possible provocations at the border”.
Belarus slammed Vilnius for taking an “unconstructive and unfriendly step” saying the country’s concerns over Wagner fighters were “far-fetched”.
Lukashenko has not committed troops in Ukraine but has allowed Russian forces to launch attacks on his soil and is a staunch ally of Vladimir Putin.
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