Belarus will repair disused Soviet missile silos as part of the Vladimir Putin’s plan to deploy nuclear weapons in the country, its President has said.
Alexander Lukashenko made the pledge during a speech to Belarus’ parliament in which he also formally accepted the Kremlin’s demand to station nuclear missiles in the country.
“I am not trying to intimidate or blackmail anyone. I want to safeguard the Belarusian state and ensure peace for the Belarusian people,” he said
Russia’s Kommersant newspaper reported that Mr Lukashenko told his military to repair sites in Belarus where Soviet Topol missile systems armed with nuclear warheads were previously stored.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Belarus had been left with nuclear missiles. These were returned to Russia under an agreement signed in the mid-1990s agreement.
Belarus is the Kremlin’s most loyal ally and allowed it to launch its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year from military bases in the south of the country.
Mr Putin ordered nuclear missiles to be positioned in Belarus on Saturday.
Mr Lukashenko earlier warned that the Russian President will use the “most awful” weapon if he believes Russia is in danger of collapsing.
Mr Lukashenko, who is one of the Mr Putin’s closest allies, said: “It is impossible to defeat a nuclear power.
“If the Russian leadership understands that the situation threatens to cause Russia’s disintegration, it will use the most awful weapon. This cannot be allowed.”
He called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and for talks to start on a lasting peace settlement.