The European Union is ready to impose new sanctions on Belarus if the Minsk leadership accepts the placement of Russian nuclear weapons on its territory, said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on Sunday.
“Belarus hosting Russian nuclear weapons would mean an irresponsible escalation & threat to European security. Belarus can still stop it, it is their choice. The EU stands ready to respond with further sanctions,” Borrell wrote in a tweet.
The EU’s top diplomat was reacting to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement on state television on Saturday evening that Moscow had reached an agreement with Belarus to station tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of the neighboring country. Putin stated that the move was in response to the UK stating it would send depleted uranium tank shells to Ukrainian forces, which Russia says represents a nuclear and environmental threat.
Putin said that Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenka had long raised the issue of deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, which borders Poland. According to the Russian president, Moscow and Minsk have agreed on this deployment.
Kyiv has called for the UN Security Council to be convened on the issue, while urging the seven leading industrial powers (G7) and the European Union to warn Belarus of the consequences if it allows Russian nuclear weapons to be deployed.
On Sunday, NATO also sharply criticized Moscow leadership for its “dangerous and irresponsible” nuclear rhetoric.
“NATO is on the alert and we are closely monitoring the situation. We have seen no change in Russia’s nuclear readiness so far that would require a change in our own,” a spokesman for the North Atlantic alliance stated.
The country of Belarus shares borders with Russia, Ukraine and Poland.