Mar 26, 2023 - World

Kirby: No indication that Russia has moved nuclear weapons to Belarus

The U.S. has not seen any signs that Russia has moved nuclear weapons to neighboring Belarus or anywhere else, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Driving the news: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced during a TV interview on Saturday that Russia and Belarus have reached an agreement to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

  • Russia would complete construction on a storage facility in Belarus for the tactical nuclear weapons by July 1, Putin added.

What they're saying: “We have not seen any indication that he has made good on this pledge or moved any nuclear weapons around," Kirby said.

  • "We've in fact seen no indication he has any intention to use nuclear weapons, period, inside Ukraine," he added, noting that nothing so far has caused the U.S. to alter its own strategic deterrent posture.

State of play: NATO promptly criticized Russia's "dangerous and irresponsible" nuclear rhetoric in a statement on Sunday, adding that the alliance is monitoring the situation, Reuters reported.

  • "We have not seen any changes in Russia's nuclear posture that would lead us to adjust our own," the statement added.
  • Ukraine's Foreign Ministry on Sunday called for a meeting of the UN Security Council to be immediately convened in light of Putin's comments.
  • "Making a statement about tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, he admits that he is afraid of losing & all he can do is scare with tactics," Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted Sunday, referring to Putin.

Worth noting: So-called "tactical" nuclear weapons are considered "low-yield" only because other nuclear weapons have become unimaginably powerful, Axios' Jacob Knutson writes.

  • Tactical nuclear weapons are often used to achieve specific battlefield gains and differ from nuclear weapons that have the capacity to wipe out cities, according to Reuters.
  • Russia used Belarus as one of its launching pads for the invasion of Ukraine last year.
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