In a recent development, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has claimed that he holds veto authority over the use of tactical nuclear weapons stationed by Russia in his country. Lukashenko also taunted Western intelligence agencies for their failure to detect the transportation of these warheads. President Vladimir Putin’s decision to deploy these weapons marks Russia’s first move of such warheads outside its borders since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Putin defended the deployment, stating that it does not violate the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as the weapons remain under Russian control, similar to how the United States oversees its nuclear weapons in Europe. However, Lukashenko, who denies being Europe’s last dictator, emphasized that he would have veto power over any potential use of the Russian tactical nuclear weapons, despite Putin having ultimate decision-making authority.
Lukashenko assured reporters that control over the weapons is jointly maintained by Belarusians and Russians, and if Russia were to contemplate using nuclear weapons, consultation with Belarus, its closest ally, would be a prerequisite. The Belarusian president emphasized that any action undesirable to his country, its people, or the state would not come to pass.
Lukashenko further clarified that the nuclear weapons were solely defensive in nature, dismissing the notion of attacking the United States or European powers. The Federation of American Scientists previously noted that it had not found conclusive visual evidence of an active nuclear weapons facility in Belarus. However, Hans Kristensen, a leading nuclear researcher, disclosed that the Central Intelligence Agency had detected a senior Russian officer’s visit to a facility in Osipovichi, possibly for nuclear weapons storage upgrades.
Lukashenko confirmed that a number of nuclear warheads had been transferred to Belarusian territory, though they were not transported by land. He pointed out that the transportation had gone unnoticed by intelligence agencies such as the CIA, MI6, and German intelligence, emphasizing the success of the plan. While Reuters cannot independently verify these secret assessments, Lukashenko’s claims raise concerns regarding the covert movement of nuclear weapons.
The United States has criticized Putin’s nuclear deployment, but maintains that it does not intend to alter its strategic nuclear weapons posture. Furthermore, there is no indication that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon, according to U.S. officials. Putin has not disclosed the specific “tactical” nuclear warheads deployed, but Lukashenko asserts that they are three times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
Lukashenko issued a stern warning that any aggression against Belarus would elicit an immediate response, with targets already identified. The situation continues to unfold, with international attention focused on the dynamics between Russia, Belarus, and the implications for regional security.