NATO sees no change in Russia’s nuclear posture despite Belarusian leader’s claims

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO sees no signs that Russia has changed its nuclear posture, the military alliance’s chief said Thursday, after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed Belarus had already received nuclear weapons. Moscow tactics.

In an interview on state television on Tuesday, Lukashenko brashly warned that he would not hesitate to order their use if Belarus faced an act of aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the weapons will be deployed in Belarus next month and will remain under the exclusive control of Moscow.

“We are of course watching closely what Russia is doing. So far, we have not seen any change in the nuclear posture which requires changes in our posture,” Stoltenberg told reporters before chairing a meeting of NATO defense ministers at the alliance headquarters. in Brussels.

NATO’s secret nuclear defense planning group is due to meet on Friday. The meeting is long overdue and not a reaction to recent developments, but the alliance is concerned about Putin’s threats and his decisions to withdraw Russia from key arms control treaties.

“Russia’s nuclear rhetoric and messages are reckless and dangerous,” Stoltenberg said. “Russia must know that a nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought.” He noted that “Russia has invested heavily in new, modern nuclear capabilities and has also deployed more nuclear capabilities, including near NATO borders, for example, in the High North.”

Earlier this year, Putin announced the planned deployment of short-range nuclear weapons to Moscow’s neighbor and ally, Belarus, in a move widely seen as a warning to the West as he steps up military support for the country. Ukraine. Russia is also using Belarus as a staging base for attacks in Ukraine.

In a meeting with Lukashenko on Friday, Putin said construction work on weapons facilities would be completed by July 7-8 and they would be quickly transferred to Belarusian territory thereafter.

US President Joe Biden and his NATO counterparts are meeting for a summit on July 11-12 in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) from the Belarusian border.

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