(Moscow) Belarus will host Russian “tactical” nuclear weapons in response to “unprecedented” Western “pressure”, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Belarus has been facing unprecedented […] pressure for two and a half years from the United States, Great Britain and their allies”, indicates Belarusian diplomacy, denouncing “direct interference and rude” in the internal affairs of Minsk.

The economic and political sanctions against this ex-Soviet republic allied with Russia are accompanied by the “reinforcement of the military potential” of NATO on the territory of the member countries of the Alliance neighboring Belarus, she continued.

In this context, Belarus is “ forced to take response measures ”, insisted Belarusian diplomacy, while assuring that Minsk will not have control over these weapons and that their deployment “ does not in any way contradict Articles I and II of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”.

On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he had the Minsk agreement to deploy “tactical” nuclear weapons in Belarus, a country located at the gates of the EU and led since 1994 by Alexander Lukashenko, his closest ally.

According to the Russian president, preparations for this deployment should begin next month.

This announcement provoked severe criticism from the West, with NATO denouncing Russia’s “ dangerous and irresponsible rhetoric ”, while the European Union threatened Minsk with new sanctions if this deployment was carried out.

The United States reaffirmed that it had no reason to believe that Russia was preparing to use nuclear weapons, while condemning the Russian announcement.

While Belarus is not directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine, Moscow used its territory to conduct its offensive on Kyiv last year.

Russian officials have repeatedly issued thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine if the conflict escalates significantly.