President Vladimir Putin of Russia stated that an agreement was reached with Belarus to place tactical nuclear weapons on its territory.
Putin's decision on Saturday comes as tensions with the West increase over the Ukraine conflict, and some Russian commentators speculate about the possibility of nuclear strikes.
Putin stated that the arrangement with Belarus would not violate nonproliferation pacts, adding that the United States has stationed nuclear weapons on the territory of its European allies for decades.
Putin stated, "We committed to do the same, but without breaking our international duties regarding the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons."
Putin stated on state television that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had long advocated for the stationing of tactical nuclear weapons in his nation, which borders Poland and is a NATO member.
Putin stated that Moscow would complete the construction of a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus by July 1, stressing that Russia will not relinquish arms control to Minsk.
According to the Russian president, Russia has already stationed ten planes in Belarus capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons and has transferred several nuclear-capable Iskander tactical missile systems.
The United States, the other nuclear superpower in the world, reacted warily to Putin's statement, with a senior administration official stating that there were no indications that Russia intended to deploy its nuclear weapons.
"We have seen no cause to alter our strategic nuclear posture, nor any signals that Russia is prepared to employ nuclear weapons." The official stated that we are committed to the collective defence of the NATO alliance.
Putin also stated on Saturday that he would deploy depleted uranium ammunition if Kyiv were to get such weapons from the West. He made this remark after the British statement that it would equip Ukraine with these anti-tank munitions.
Putin responded to how Moscow would react if the West supplied Ukraine with depleted uranium shells by stating that Russia possessed enormous weapons.
In an interview on Russian television, Putin stated, "Of course, Russia has everything it needs to respond." "We have, without exaggeration, hundreds of thousands of these shells. We have not yet utilized them."
Putin's announcement was deemed by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) to be a very dangerous escalation.
"In the circumstances of the Ukraine conflict, the probability of misunderstanding or misinterpretation is particularly high." The organisation said that sharing nuclear weapons exacerbates the issue and threatens devastating human repercussions.
Putin declared last month that Russia would cease participating in New START, the final surviving arms limitation agreement between the world's two leading nuclear powers, the United States and Russia.
NATO head Jens Stoltenberg criticized Russia for suspending the nuclear weapons treaty, stating that it signalled the end of Europe's post-Cold War framework for arms control.
Putin took this action after Russia delayed New START-mandated American inspections of its military facilities in August.
Russia is a close ally of Belarus. The West will not recognize Lukashenko's re-election as president in 2020. He is militarily, politically, and economically dependent on Moscow.
Some Russian units had penetrated Belarusian territory before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.