Director of the second department of the CIS countries of the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexei Polishchuk said that agreements on the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) in Belarus presuppose no time limitation. According to him, one of the possible conditions for the return of nuclear weapons to Russia could be the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons to the US territory.
“As for the possible timeframe for Russian TNWs to be on the territory of Belarus, the Russian-Belarusian agreements do not imply any restrictions in this regard. In the current geopolitical situation, the main conditions for the hypothetical return of TNWs to Russia could be the US and NATO abandoning their course to undermine the security and sovereignty of Russia and Belarus,” said Mr. Polishchuk (quoted by TASS).
According to Mr. Polishchuk, the decision to deploy Russian tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus is “largely a forced response to the aggressive policy of the alliance”. He noted that “perennial destructive practice” of joint nuclear missions of NATO countries was taken into account when developing the agreements.
“In contrast to American warheads in European countries, our special warheads will be located in the immediate vicinity of Russia, on the territory of the allied state, within the border of which we have formed a common defense space,” he stressed.
As Alexei Polishchuk specifies, Russian nuclear weapons could hypothetically be returned from the territory of Belarus if the US eliminates the American nuclear infrastructure in Europe. “Of course, such our step should be preceded by a full withdrawal of all American nuclear weapons to the US and elimination of the related infrastructure in Europe,” he concluded.
In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the construction of a storage facility for TNWs in Belarus would be finished by July 1. However, during a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on 9 June, he specified that the deployment of nuclear weapons would begin as soon as the facilities for them had been completed on 7-8 July. Mr. Lukashenko claimed that he could use Russian nuclear weapons, but only in the case of an attack on Belarus.