Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday he would deploy tactical nuclear weapons in neighbour and ally Belarus.

Putin has repeatedly issued thinly veiled threats he could use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, reviving Cold War-era fears.

"There is nothing unusual here either: the United States has been doing this for decades. They have long placed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allies," Putin said.

Putin said he spoke to Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko and said "we agreed that we to do the same."

On the question of how Moscow would respond if the West supplied Ukraine with depleted uranium shells, following a suggestion by Britain it could supply Kyiv with the munitions, Putin said Russia had vast quantities of the weaponry.

"Russia of course has what it needs to answer. Without exaggeration, we have hundreds of thousands of such shells. We have not used them yet," Putin added in an interview on Russian television.

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The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has warned nuclear threats were creating a dangerous sense of uncertainty around their possible use.

The longer Russia's operation in Ukraine grinds on, the greater the nuclear strike risk, ICAN warned last month ahead of the offensive's first anniversary.

Putin announced last month that Moscow would suspend its participation in New START, the last remaining arms control treaty between the world's two main nuclear powers Russia and the United States.

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US Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Ukraine must be victorious over Russia. Pompeo sought to assuage fears that a Trump presidency would hurt Ukraine.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg slammed Russia for suspending the nuclear weapons limitation treaty with the US, saying it marked the end of Europe's post-Cold War arms control architecture.

The announcement came after Moscow last August suspended US inspections of its military sites under New START.

Putin previously said at a Kremlin meeting that "such a threat is rising" on the use of nuclear weapons but has been evasive on Russia's policy. US officials have voiced fears that Russia could use nuclear weapons if it feels routed on the battlefield and could plant a fictitious story to justify its actions.

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Russia has already spoken of supposed Ukrainian attempts to detonate a "dirty bomb," drawing strong denials from Ukraine and a sharp rebuke from the United States, which had rare direct communication with Moscow to warn against nuclear use.

Neither the United States nor Russia – by far the largest nuclear weapons powers – officially has a policy of no first use of the ultra-destructive arms.

A recent US posture review by President Joe Biden concluded only that nuclear weapons should only be used in "extreme circumstances."

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Comments (2)

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David
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Yet another of Putin attempt at headline grabbing, to impress nationalistic extremists in Russia, and terrorise militarily ignorant greenies in the West. The nuclear weapons subject no longer has relevance because everyone understands their first use is never a feasible solution in any situation, not least because the land being fought over will be worthless for thousands of years.

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William Spillman
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Little Putin the bully has reached the limits of his impossibility. If he destroys Russia, and apparently he cares about his own well being above everything, then he will destroy that which he cherishes over all, Vladimir Putin. If he destroys the world, then he will be hated forever, by everyone, even by the Chinese. So, he can be defeated and die a traitor to Russia forever, or he can destroy the world and be hated by any sentient being that might somehow survive. Our puny Putin is not managing all this very well, don't you think? Divide the number of fake Putin's into how crazy the original is and your get a mathematically irrational number. Unless everyone in Russia has become totally insane, somebody should take Putin out before everything gets much much worse.

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