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Blinken: US has 'no reason to adjust' nuclear posture over Russia's weapons transfer to Belarus

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday said the Biden administration is closely monitoring Russia’s claims that it’s stored a tactical nuclear weapon in Belarus, but Washington has “no reason to adjust” its own nuclear posture. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in the day said Moscow sent the first of several nuclear weapons to its ally Belarus, with the rest to be delivered by the end of summer. Putin, who in March first announced the plan to deploy nuclear bombs in the country bordering Ukraine, said the move is meant as a “deterrence measure.” 

Blinken said he has seen Putin’s recent comments, and the United States will “continue to monitor the situation very closely and very carefully.” 

“We have no reason to adjust our own nuclear posture,” Blinken said at a State Department press conference with Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. “We don’t see any indications that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon.”

He added Washington is still committed to defending “every inch” of NATO territory. 

“As for Belarus itself, this is just another example of [Belarus President Alexander] Lukashenko making irresponsible, provocative choices to cede control of Belarus’s sovereignty against the will of the Belarusian people,” he said.  

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom Vadym Prystaiko, however, said Putin’s remarks should be taken “very, very seriously,” CNN reported.  

“I believe that [Putin] was blackmailing all of us: Ukrainians, first of all, but then Europeans and Americans and all our partners around the globe,” Prystaiko said. 

Moscow is transferring short-range tactical nuclear weapons, which are not as damaging as the nuclear warheads attached to ballistic missiles but are capable of immense destruction, into Belarus.  

Russia moving the nuclear weapons back into Belarus is the first such transfer for the Kremlin since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. At the time, Belarus was one of four former Soviet Union members, including Ukraine, that transferred nuclear weapons over to Russia. 

Putin, who has repeatedly threatened the use of nuclear weapons in its war with Ukraine, also on Friday denigrated NATO and warned there is a “serious danger of further drawing” the alliance into the war by providing Ukraine weapons.  

Source: The Hill

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