Vladimir Putin on Saturday announced he would deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, a neighbor and ally, partially in response to a suggestion from the United Kingdom that it could supply Kyiv with depleted uranium ammunition.

Has he followed through with the threat?

The United States has seen no indication that Russia has yet moved any nuclear weapons, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Sunday.

“We have not seen any indication that he (Putin) has made good on this pledge or moved any nuclear weapons around,” Kirby told CBS’s Face the Nation.

With fears of a nuclear war rising since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, experts believe that any strike carried out by Moscow would likely involve small-size battlefield weapons, called “tactical” as opposed to “strategic” high-powered long-range nuclear weapons.


Kirby said, however, that Washington has “seen no indication he has any intention to use nuclear weapons, period, inside Ukraine.” The U.S. monitors the situation daily, he added, but that so far there was “nothing that would cause us to change our own strategic deterrent posture.”

Does Putin still intend to move the weapons to Belarus?

Putin said the deployment was similar to moves from the U.S., which stores such weapons in bases across Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey, an analogy Western allies called “misleading.”

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Russia is due to start training crews on April 3 and plans to finish the construction of a special storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus by July 1.

How has the world reacted?

Kyiv on Sunday said it was seeking an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council over the announcement.

“Ukraine expects effective actions to counteract the Kremlin’s nuclear blackmail from the United Kingdom, China, the United States and France,” the Ukrainian foreign ministry said.


“We demand that an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council be immediately convened for this purpose,” it added.

On Sunday secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov wrote on Twitter that “the Kremlin took Belarus as a nuclear hostage.”

He added that the move was “a step towards the internal destabilization of the country.”

Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak added that “[Putin] admits that he is afraid of losing and all he can do is scare” people.

NATO also joined the criticism, with spokeswoman Oana Lungescu saying “Russia’s reference to NATO’s nuclear sharing is totally misleading. NATO allies act with full respect of their international commitments.”

Lungescu also blasted Russia’s announcement as “dangerous and irresponsible.”

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