Polish President Andrzej Duda said Tuesday that Russia has been moving nuclear weapons into Belarus and said the deployment changes the “security architecture” of the region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the first Russian nukes started arriving in Belarus back in June, but the deployment hadn’t been confirmed by the US or NATO. Duda made the comments at a joint press conference with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
“I was telling President (de Sousa) about the implementation of the declarations by Vladimir Putin that Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons will be moved to the territory of Belarus,” Duda said, according to The Associated Press. “Indeed, this process is taking place, we are seeing that.”
“It is changing the architecture of security in our immediate neighborhood, but also of the eastern flank of NATO, at the same time. So in fact it is changing the situation for all of the alliance,” Duda added.
Last month, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Warsaw wants the US to deploy nuclear weapons to Poland in response to Russia placing nukes in Belarus. In October 2022, before Putin announced his deployment plans, Duda said his government had approached the US about the idea of adding Poland to NATO’s nuclear sharing program.
Under NATO’s nuclear sharing program, US nuclear weapons are deployed in Germany, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, and the Netherlands. There are no American nukes in countries that joined NATO after the Cold War, but that could change as the US is working to buildup the alliance’s “eastern flank.”
When Putin first announced he would deploy nukes to Belarus, which he said was a response to Britain providing Ukraine with toxic depleted uranium ammunition, he compared the move to NATO nuclear sharing.
Duda’s comments on Tuesday come amid heightened tensions between Belarus and its NATO neighbors. Poland has said it’s deploying an additional 10,000 troops to its border with Belarus as part of a buildup that started after Wagner fighters traveled to Belarus.