Officials in Ukraine on Sunday called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, charging that Russia is making the country a “nuclear hostage” after President Vladimir Putin revealed plans to move tactical atomic weapons in Belarus.
Russia said its plan to move the weapons to Belarus was in response to Western nations stepping up their military support for Ukraine, according to The Associated Press.
NATO has condemned Russia’s move, calling it “dangerous” and “irresponsible,” the BBC reported. The organization said it is “closely monitoring” the situation.
Belarus shares a long border with Ukraine, along with NATO members Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Putin announced his plan during a television interview on Saturday, according to the AP.
The Russian leader and Alexander Lukashenko, his counterpart in Belarus, have hinted at some kind of nuclear arrangement for some time, The Guardian reported.
Ukraine said Putin’s move violates nuclear non-proliferation agreements, the BBC reported. The Russian president has denied the accusation, comparing it instead to the U.S. stationing its weapons in Europe.
Putin said the U.S. had nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey, according to the AP.
“We are doing what they have been doing for decades, stationing them in certain allied countries, preparing the launch platforms and training their crews,” Putin said in a statement.
In a statement, Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry said it will call for new sanctions against Russia, CNN reported.
“These are desperate moves by Putin and Lukashenko to create another wave of tension and destabilization in Europe,” the ministry said. “These actions are dragging Belarus further into the war with Ukraine and into confrontation with the democratic world.”
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