Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday that the efforts to send Russian nuclear weapons to Belarus have begun as the two nations signed an agreement to formalize the deployment.
The agreement was signed by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and his Belarusian counterpart in Minsk. According to Russia’s TASS news agency, the documents outline the procedure for storing Russian nuclear weapons in a special storage facility on Belarusian soil.
Lukashenko was in Moscow on Thursday and said Russian President Vladimir Putin informed him that “he had signed a decree on our actions to store nuclear weapons in Belarus.” The Belarusian leader said that the “effort of moving nuclear munitions has begun.”
Putin first announced the plan to deploy tactical nukes in Belarus in March. He said the move was a response to the UK arming Ukraine with depleted uranium shells for their British-made Challenger 2 tanks. Depleted uranium ammunition is toxic, and its use is linked to cancer and birth defects.
The Russians have compared the deployment to NATO’s nuclear sharing program, under which US nuclear weapons are stationed in the territory of Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Turkey.