The Kremlin began transferring nuclear weapons to Belarus and the United States criticized the transfer

Kremlin began transferring nuclear weapons to Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced on Thursday that Russia had already begun transferring nuclear weapons to his country, a move that the Belarusian opposition says poses a threat “for Ukraine and for all of Europe.”

Lukashenko, who made this announcement on the sidelines of a regional summit in Moscow, indicated that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, informed him that he had already signed the decree for the shipment of the nuclear warheads, although he did not specify whether the projectiles had already reached Belarusian territory.

The transfer of nuclear weapons has begun,” Lukashenko said in response to a journalist, in a video on the official channel of the Belarusian presidency on Telegram.

Moscow announced in March that it would deploy “tactical” nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus, fueling fears of an escalation in the conflict in Ukraine and drawing criticism from the international community, especially from Western powers.

This not only endangers the lives of Belarusians, but also creates a threat to Ukraine and the whole of Europe,” the Belarusian opposition member in exile Svetlana Tijanóvskaya said on Twitter on Thursday.

For its part, the White House on Thursday branded the transfer of Russian tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus “irresponsible”, but qualified that they see no indication that Russia is preparing to use them.

“We have not seen any reason to adjust our nuclear posture,” government spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said during a press conference.

Jean-Pierre referred to the announcement made today by Minsk and Moscow as “a new example of making irresponsible and provocative decisions.”

In addition, he assured that the United States will continue to monitor the situation and stressed that the country remains committed to the defense of NATO.

The European Commission also criticized the announcement today, calling it “a step that only increases tension” in the war against Ukraine.

“This is not a step towards de-escalation. It is a step that only increases the tension that can be framed in the context of the illegal aggression of Russia and the cooperation of Belarus”, said the spokesman for Foreign Affairs of the Community Executive, Peter Stano, who added that “the EU will closely monitor” the application of the agreement.

The defense ministers of Russia, Sergei Shoigu, and of Belarus, Viktor Khrenin, signed today in Minsk a series of documents that regulate the storage of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarusian territory, the transfer of which has already begun.

“In the context of an extremely strong escalation of threats and the activity of NATO joint nuclear missions, we are obliged to take retaliatory measures in the military-nuclear sphere,” Shoigu said.

Relay in Bakhmut

The announcement came the same day that the Russian Wagner paramilitary group began handing over to the Russian army its positions in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which it claims to have conquered after months of fierce fighting.

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Maliar said Wagner’s troops ceded positions to Russian regular troops “on the outskirts of Bakhmut” but remain in the city.

Maliar further asserted that Ukrainian soldiers still control a suburb southwest of Bakhmut.

Wagner’s boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, admitted on Wednesday that some 10,000 of the 50,000 inmates conscripted into Russian jails died in Ukraine, where they were on the front lines of the Battle of Bakhmut.

This relief comes at a time when the Russian army is in difficulties on the flanks of Bakhmut. According to Kyiv, Russian troops lost 20 km2 north and south of the devastated eastern Ukrainian city.

Fighters from Ukraine also penetrated Russia’s Belgorod region on Monday and Tuesday, once again highlighting the plight of Russian forces.

Pressure on China

Russia announced that it intercepted two US jets near its airspace over the Baltic Sea, in the second such incident this week.

Japan indicated for its part that it deployed fighter planes after detecting two Russian “reconnaissance” aircraft near its coasts, one in the Pacific Ocean and another in the Sea of ​​Japan.

On the diplomatic front, Russia announced that Chinese envoy Li Hui, sent by Beijing to Europe to discuss a political solution to the Ukraine conflict, will visit Moscow on Friday for “consultations.”

The European Union (EU) has called for China to use its influence to get the Russian authorities to withdraw their troops from Ukraine.