Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stands while listening to the Ukrainian national anthem on his arrival at the European Parliament on February 09, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.
Omar Havana | Getty Images
NATO condemned Russia’s “dangerous and irresponsible” nuclear rhetoric Sunday after President Vladimir Putin shared plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
Putin announced the deal during an interview on Russian television on Saturday, and he said it will not violate non-proliferation agreements. He said the announcement is “nothing out of the ordinary” and that the U.S. has been doing something similar by stationing weapons in Europe, which a NATO spokesperson called “totally misleading.”
“NATO allies act with full respect of their international commitments,” the spokesperson told NBC News. “Russia has consistently broken its arms control commitments, most recently suspending its participation in the New START Treaty.”
The New START Treaty establishes a limit on the number of strategic warheads that the U.S. and Russia are able to deploy. Putin announced in February that Russia was going to suspend its participation in the treaty.
The NATO spokesperson added that there have not been changes in Russia’s nuclear posture that have caused NATO to adjust its own.
Following Putin’s announcement Saturday, Ukraine called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Sunday that it expects “effective actions” to address Russia’s threats of nuclear aggression.
“Russia once again confirms its chronic inability to be a responsible steward of nuclear weapons as a means of deterrence and prevention of war, and not as a tool of threats and intimidation,” the ministry said in a statement. “The world must unite against the one who threatens the future of human civilization.”
In an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said there is no indication that Putin has followed through on the deal with Belarus or moved any nuclear weapons. He added that Putin has not suggested any intention to use nuclear weapons, “period,” but that the U.S. is continuing to monitor the situation closely.
Government officials around the world took to Twitter to condemn Putin’s announcement Sunday. A Ukrainian national security official said in a tweet that Russia has taken Belarus as a “nuclear hostage,” and that placing tactical nuclear weapons there will cause turmoil in the nation.
“Putin’s statement about placing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus – a step towards internal destabilization of the country – maximizes the level of negative perception and public rejection of russia and putin in Belarusian society,” Oleksiy Danilov wrote early Sunday morning.
The EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, wrote that the EU “stands ready” to enact further sanctions against Russia. He called Russia’s announcement an “irresponsible escalation” and a threat to European security.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Putin is “too predictable” in a tweet Sunday.
“Making a statement about tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, he admits that he is afraid of losing & all he can do is scare with tactics,” he wrote.