NATO slams Putin rhetoric on tactical nukes in Belarus; Russia kilos Avdiivka By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A mine hazard signal and anti-tank constructions are seen close to the border with Belarus, amid Russia’s assault on Ukraine in Volyn area, Ukraine January 13, 2023. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

By Dan Peleschuk

KYIV (Reuters) – NATO slammed Vladimir Putin for “harmful” nuclear rhetoric after the Russian president introduced plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, whereas Russian forces intensified shelling of the frontline Ukrainian metropolis of Avdiivka.

Putin likened his Belarus plan on Saturday to the U.S. stationing its weapons in Europe, insisting Russia wouldn’t violate its nuclear non-proliferation guarantees.

The transfer, whereas not sudden, is one in every of Russia’s most pronounced nuclear indicators but and a warning to NATO over its navy help for Ukraine, which has known as for a gathering of the U.N. Safety Council in response.

“Russia’s nuclear rhetoric is harmful and irresponsible,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu mentioned on Sunday.

“NATO is vigilant and we’re carefully monitoring the state of affairs. We now have not seen any adjustments in Russia’s nuclear posture that might lead us to regulate our personal.”

Putin’s non-proliferation pledge and his description of U.S. weapons deployment abroad have been means off the mark, she added.

“Russia’s reference to NATO’s nuclear sharing is completely deceptive. NATO allies act with full respect of their worldwide commitments,” she mentioned in an announcement. “Russia has persistently damaged its arms management commitments.”

Ukraine’s safety chief, Oleksiy Danilov, mentioned Russia’s plan would destabilise Belarus, which he mentioned had been taken “hostage” by Moscow.

Others too joined the refrain of condemnation on Sunday, with Lithuania saying it might name for brand spanking new sanctions towards Moscow and Minsk, whereas EU coverage chief Josep Borrell urged Belarus to not host the weapons and threatened additional sanctions.

Belarus and Russia have shut navy ties, and Minsk allowed Moscow to make use of Belarusian territory as a staging level for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine final yr.

Consultants mentioned Russia’s transfer was important because it had till now been proud that in contrast to america, it didn’t deploy nuclear weapons exterior its borders. It might be the primary time for the reason that mid-Nineteen Nineties that it has performed so.

The U.S., additionally a nuclear superpower, performed down considerations about Russia’s deliberate nuclear deployment.

Rep. Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the U.S. Home of Representatives international affairs committee, mentioned he regarded Russia’s plan as designed to intimidate the West.

“I believe that is sabre-rattling on the a part of Putin mainly to attempt to frighten,” McCaul instructed the Fox Information Sunday programme. “These tactical nukes are disturbing.”

Tactical nuclear weapons confer with these used for particular good points on a battlefield relatively than these with the capability to wipe out cities. It’s unclear what number of such weapons Russia has, given it’s an space nonetheless shrouded in Chilly Warfare secrecy.

Putin on Sunday asserted that Western powers are constructing a brand new “axis” just like the partnership between Germany and Japan throughout World Warfare Two.

This was a reprisal of a theme he has utilized in his portrayal of the warfare – that Moscow is preventing a Ukraine within the grip of supposed Nazis, abetted by Western powers menacing Russia.

Ukraine rejects these parallels as spurious pretexts for a warfare of imperial conquest.

Putin additionally denied Russia was making a navy alliance with China. The USA has mentioned that it fears China might arm Russia, one thing China denies.


On the battlefield, Russian shelling compelled a virtually full shutdown of the jap Ukrainian metropolis of Avdiivka, which lies some 90 kilometres (56 miles) southwest of the besieged Bakhmut, the highest native official mentioned on Sunday.

“I’m unhappy to say this, however Avdiivka is changing into increasingly more like a spot from post-apocalyptic films,” the town’s navy administration head Vitaliy Barabash mentioned.

On Sunday, Russian shelling focused two high-rise buildings in Avdiivka, which is simply 10 km from the northern outskirts of Donetsk metropolis, which has been underneath Moscow’s management since 2014.

The Ukrainian navy warned final week that Avdiivka might develop into a “second Bakhmut” – the place fierce preventing described by either side as a “meat grinder” has turned the city into rubble.

Ukraine’s Normal Employees mentioned on Sunday its forces had repelled 85 Russian assaults through the previous 24 hours throughout the jap entrance, together with the Bakhmut space.

Russia’s defence ministry mentioned on Sunday that it forces had struck navy targets in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson areas, inflicting important Ukrainian casualties.

The ministry additionally mentioned it had downed a Ukrainian drone south of Moscow on Sunday, including three folks have been injured and condominium blocks have been broken within the drone assault.

Russia has mentioned previously that Ukrainian drones have flown into its territory and induced injury to civilian infrastructure, an assertion Kyiv denies.

Reuters couldn’t confirm the battlefield experiences.

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