If the United States and NATO refuse to discuss Russia’s security-guarantees proposals, Russia will consider all possible retaliatory steps, Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko said when asked to comment on the likelihood of deploying nuclear weapons in Belarus.
“All issues are being studied comprehensively. We have got such proposals from our Belarusian allies. All options are going to be considered, but as I have said, much will depend on the reaction of the United States and the NATO bloc,” Rudenko told RIA Novosti.
Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry published drafts of an agreement between Russia and the United Nations on the above mentioned security guarantees. In particular, the Kremlin wants NATO to exclude further expansion and any military activity on the territory of Ukraine, as well as other states in Eastern Europe, Transcaucasia, and Central Asia. In response, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg criticized the idea of holding a conference with Russia on spheres of influence.
“The idea of holding a new conference where we would again discuss zones of influence, within which the great powers could control what their neighbors can or cannot do, would be a step backwards for us, and it is by no means the right direction,” he said.
Today Russian president Vladimir Putin has stressed that the Kremlin is ready to take measures if NATO expands close to its border.
“In case of clearly aggressive policy continued by Western colleagues, we will take adequate military-technical measures and respond toughly to unfriendly steps,” news agency TASS quotes him.
At the end of November, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that he had suggested that Russia return nuclear weapons to Belarus. On 18 December, Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey recalled this statement in an interview with the Arabic channel of the Russian propaganda network RT. He called it ‘one of the possible responses to the upcoming possible actions of the North Atlantic Alliance on the territory of Poland’.
In December’s interview with the notorious Russian propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov, Lukashenka expressed confidence that Putin would return nuclear weapons to Belarus if the NATO nuclear weapons appeared in Poland. According to him, the Belarusian authorities are ready to ‘host’ nuclear weapons in the country. “Even the infrastructure from Soviet times has been preserved for this purpose,” he added.