“If necessary, we will deploy nuclear weapons, even super nuclear weapons, promising weapons, in defense of our territory,” Lukashenko said, in statements carried by the Belarusian media.
He stressed that this might happen if “enemies and enemies” of Belarus, Russia’s ally in its crisis with the West over Ukraine, took “stupid measures”.
He added: “If there were no threats from unfriendly countries towards Belarus, there would be no need for nuclear weapons for a hundred years.”
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Belarus, like other Soviet republics, abandoned the nuclear weapons deployed on its soil and agreed to return them to Russia.
The Belarusian constitution at the time stipulated that the country would remain a “nuclear-weapon-free zone”, but this article was replaced in the constitutional amendments proposed by Lukashenko and will be put to Belarusians in a referendum on February 27.
Under the revised version, this article will be replaced by another article that “excludes military aggression from the territory” of Belarus.
Washington expressed concern that this constitutional amendment would allow the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus.
Westerners have been warning for weeks of the dangers of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, after Moscow massed more than 100,000 soldiers at the Ukrainian border and conducted several military exercises, in an explosive situation amid the worst crisis between the West and Moscow since the end of the Cold War.
After weeks of escalation, Russia announced on Tuesday and Wednesday the withdrawal of some of its forces, while the Westerners confirmed that they had not seen any reduction in forces, and the White House accused Moscow of sending new reinforcements.