Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday that Russia has begun transferring nuclear weapons to its Western neighbor and ally after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to transfer them in March.
There were no new comments from Russia regarding the supply of nuclear weapons to Belarus.
“The transfer of nuclear ammunition has begun,” Lukashenko told reporters during his visit to Moscow.
Lukashenko allowed his territory — which borders Ukraine, as well as Poland and Lithuania — members of the EU and NATO — to become a launching pad for Russia’s offensive against Ukraine.
In March, Putin announced the deployment of short-range tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus, which drew condemnation from the West.
Lukashenko said that on Wednesday Putin informed him that he had signed the decree on transfer.
The leader of the Belarusian opposition, Svyatlana Tsikhanovskaya, said on Thursday that this step “will not only endanger the lives of Belarusians, but will also create a new threat for Ukraine and all of Europe.”
“This will make Belarusians hostages of Russian imperial ambitions,” Tsikhanovskaya added.
Tactical nuclear weapons are combat weapons that, while devastating, are less powerful than long-range strategic weapons.
Putin’s announcement sparked fears of a nuclear conflict, but experts and governments said the move was unlikely to change the course of the conflict.
In April, Belarusian troops began training on Russian missile systems capable of carrying nuclear weapons.