(Kyiv) Ukraine on Sunday accused Russia of taking Belarus “hostage” after Vladimir Putin’s announcement that Moscow will deploy “tactical” nuclear missiles in its ally’s territory on the doorstep of the Union European.

Over the past year, Russian officials have multiplied thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons if the conflict with Kyiv escalates significantly. Belarus borders Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania.

“The Kremlin has taken Belarus as a nuclear hostage,” Ukrainian Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov wrote on Twitter, adding that Putin’s decision is a “step towards internal destabilization of the country.”

Moscow’s announcement “maximizes the level of negative perception and public rejection of Russia and Mr. Putin in Belarusian society,” Mr. Danilov also argued.

Westerners had not yet reacted to Mr. Putin’s plans on Sunday.

On Saturday, Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will deploy “tactical” nuclear weapons in Belarus and that ten planes have already been equipped to be ready to use this kind of weaponry.

“We agreed to do the same,” he added, saying he planned to “train the crews” from April 3 and “complete the construction of a special warehouse for tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus” on July 1.

Mr. Putin “admits that he is afraid of losing [the war] and that all he can do is scare,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak said on Twitter on Sunday.

He also accused the Russian leader of “violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty”.

Mr. Putin, during his announcement, had specified that this deployment in Belarus would be done “without contravening our international agreements on nuclear non-proliferation”.

While Belarus is not directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine, Moscow used its territory to lead its offensive on Kyiv last year or to carry out strikes, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Vladimir Putin motivated his decision on Saturday by the United Kingdom’s desire to send depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine, as recently mentioned by a British official.

Mr. Putin threatened to also use this type of shell, used to pierce armor, if Kyiv were to receive it.

During recent negotiations in Moscow between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, the two leaders had stated in a joint declaration that a nuclear war “must never be started”, because “there can be no winners”.

Several Russian officials, including former President Dmitry Medvedev, have however threatened Ukraine and Westerners with nuclear weapons since the start of the Russian offensive launched on February 24, 2022.

Russia also suspended the landmark New Start nuclear disarmament treaty signed with the United States last month, though it promised to abide by its nuclear arsenal limitation until the deal effectively ends on May 5. February 2026.

Russian nuclear doctrine does not provide for the preventive use by Russia of nuclear weapons, but only in response to an attack on it or its allies, or in the event of a “threat to the very existence of the state”.