NATO sees no change in Russia’s nuclear posture despite Belarusian leader’s claims

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg shaking hands with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, left, greets U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III at a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday.
(Virginia Mayo / Associated Press)
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NATO sees no sign that Russia has changed its nuclear posture, the head of the Western military alliance said Thursday, after Belarus’ president claimed that his country had already received some tactical nuclear weapons from its ally Moscow.

In an interview on state television Tuesday, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko brashly warned that he wouldn’t hesitate to order the weapons’ use if Belarus faced an act of aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the weapons would be deployed to Belarus next month and would remain under Moscow’s exclusive control.

“We are, of course, closely monitoring what Russia is doing. So far we haven’t seen any changes in the nuclear posture that requires any changes in our posture,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Thursday before chairing a meeting of NATO defense ministers at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.


NATO’s secretive nuclear defense planning group is set to meet Friday. The meeting has long been planned and is not a reaction to recent developments, but the alliance is concerned about Putin’s threats and his decisions to pull Russia out of important arms-limitation treaties.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s KGB years in East Germany offer a window into his crackdown on protests, war on Ukraine and yearning for empire.

June 15, 2023

“Russia’s nuclear rhetoric and messaging is reckless and dangerous,” Stoltenberg said. “Russia must know that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” He noted that “Russia has invested heavily in new modern nuclear capabilities and also deployed more nuclear capabilities, including close to NATO borders, for instance, in the high north.”

Earlier this year, Putin announced the planned deployment of short-range nuclear weapons to Belarus in a move widely seen as a warning to the West as it stepped up military support for Ukraine. Russia is also using Belarus as a staging base for attacks in Ukraine.

During a meeting with Lukashenko on Friday, Putin said work on building facilities for the weapons would be completed by July 7-8, and they would be moved to Belarusian territory quickly after that.

President Biden and his NATO counterparts are gathering for a summit July 11-12 in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, about 22 miles from the Belarusian border.