Counter to NATO
Putin did not specify when the weapons would be transferred to Belarus, which has borders with three NATO members — Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. He said Russia would complete the construction of a storage facility there by July 1.
It was also unclear where in Belarus the weapons would be stationed. The transfer is expected to expand Russia’s nuclear strike ability along NATO’s eastern border.
Putin said that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has long asked to have nuclear weapons in his country again as a counter to NATO.
“We are not handing over (the weapons). And the US does not hand (them) over to its allies. We’re basically doing the same thing they’ve been doing for a decade,” Putin said.
“They have allies in certain countries and they train … their crews. We are going to do the same thing.”
Russia has stationed 10 aircraft in Belarus capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons, Putin said, adding that it had already transferred to Belarus a number of Iskander tactical missile systems that can launch nuclear weapons.