The United States fears that Russian troops will lead to nuclear weapons in Belarus

The United States is worried that the arrival of Russian troops in Belarus for exercises could become a permanent presence that could lead to nuclear weapons entering the country, a senior State Department official told reporters on Tuesday.

Russian military forces moved into Belarus after Moscow ally strongman Alexander Lukashenko announced on Monday that the two countries would conduct military exercises next month.

The move, which came without the usual warning given to countries in the region, contributed to growing tensions with the West over the possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, which borders Belarus.

The US official, who spoke due to anonymity, said the size of the Russian force arriving in Belarus was “above what we would expect from a normal exercise”.

“The timing is remarkable and, of course, raises concerns that Russia may intend to station troops in Belarus under the guise of joint military exercises to possibly attack Ukraine,” the official said.

The official said that changes to the Belarussian constitution in a referendum next month could allow the Russian military presence to become permanent.

“These draft constitutional amendments may indicate Belarus’ plans to allow both Russian conventional and nuclear forces to be stationed on its territory,” the official said.

It would represent a “European security challenge that may require an answer,” the official said.

Belarus also borders NATO member Poland.

“Over time, Lukashenko has relied more and more on Russia for all kinds of support. And we know he does not get that support for free,” the US official said.

“It is clear that Russia is chasing Lukashenko’s vulnerability and is calling in some accumulated IOUs,” the official said.

(AFP)

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More