Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has announced plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus.
It marks a warning to the West as it steps up military support for Ukraine.
A White House spokesperson said the United States had seen no reason to adjust its nuclear posture, nor indications Russia was preparing to use nuclear weapons. Russia and Belarus had talked about nuclear for “some time”, the official said.
Mr Putin said he was responding to Britain’s decision this week to give Ukraine armour-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.
Russia falsely claimed the rounds have nuclear components.
Mr Putin said Russia would maintain control over the tactical nuclear weapons and the construction of storage facilities for them in Belarus will be completed by July 1st.
Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has long asked for the weapons, Mr Putin said, speaking in an interview on Russian state television.
Russia has used Belarusian territory as a staging ground to send troops into Ukraine, and Moscow and Minsk have maintained close military ties.
Mr Putin said Russia helped modernise Belarusian military aircraft last year to make them capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
He said 10 such aircraft were ready to go.
He said nuclear weapons could also be carried by the Iskander short-range missiles Russia gave Belarus last year.
Tactical nuclear weapons are intended for use on the battlefield, unlike more powerful, longer-range strategic nuclear weapons. – AP