President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that Russia will station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. The allies struck an agreement after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko raised the possibility, Putin told Russian state television, per the BBC. Russia will maintain control of the weapons, he said, likening the move to the US having weapons in Europe and saying it won't break existing nonproliferation agreements. "The United States has been doing this for decades," Putin was quoted as saying.
A storage site for the weapons, which are designed to be used in battle—unlike longer-range strategic nuclear weapons—will be built by July 1, Putin said, per Reuters. Putin has had Lukashenko's support for the invasion of Ukraine, and Russia has used neighboring Belarus as a staging ground for deploying troops. Putin said this move is a response to Britain's decision to ship Ukraine armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium, which Russia falsely claims have nuclear components, per the AP. (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)