Putin in Belarus to discuss security, tactical nuclear weapon exercises

  • World
  • Friday, 24 May 2024

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko before a military parade on Victory Day, which marks the 79th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2024. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived on Thursday in Belarus, Moscow's closest ally, for talks with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko expected to focus on security and exercises with tactical nuclear weapons.

Minsk is set to take part in the exercises, aimed at simulating preparations for the launch of the weapons, which are smaller nuclear warheads meant for use on battlefields.

Putin, quoted by Russian news agencies on his late evening arrival, said he had discussed issues of cooperation Belarus at a cabinet meeting in Moscow.

"Today and tomorrow we will be discussing all this, including issues of security to which we have devoted considerable attention," Putin was quoted as saying. "There is a lot to talk about. Everything is stable and going well for us."

Discussions of the second phase of exercises with tactical weapons were also on the agenda.

"Part of this is the direct participation of our Belarusian friends and colleagues in the military sphere in these events."

Russian news agencies said the two presidents continued informal discussions late on Thursday evening ahead of a full day of meetings on Friday.

Russia's Defence Ministry said this week the country's forces had started the first stage of the exercises to simulate preparation for the launch of tactical nuclear weapons.

Moscow has linked the exercises to what it calls "militant statements" by Western officials, including French President Emmanuel Macron, which it said posed a threat to its security.

Nuclear analysts say the exercises are designed as a warning signal by Putin to deter the West from wading more deeply into the war in Ukraine. Western countries have provided weapons and intelligence to Kyiv, but have refrained from sending troops.

Belarus has provided logistical support for Russia during its conflict with Ukraine, with Russian forces entering Ukraine from Belarusian territory during their initial offensive against Kyiv in February 2022. But Lukashenko has sent no troops.

Lukashenko, in power since 1994, is a longstanding ally of Putin and was drawn closer to him after securing his support against mass protests denouncing Lukashenko's 2020 re-election as rigged.

Belarusian state news agency Belta reported earlier on Thursday that Lukashenko had appointed Pavel Muraveyko as the new chief of the Belarusian army's general staff.

(Reporting by ReutersWriting by Felix LightEditing by Andrew Osborn, Ron Popeski and Lincoln Feast.)

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Next In World

Ukrainian military says it downed 7 of 14 missiles, all drones in Russian attack
India brings home bodies of 45 workers killed in Kuwait fire
South Africa governing alliance emerges as new parliament convenes
Greece migrant boat disaster relatives demand answers, one year on
How Amazon blew Alexa’s shot to dominate AI, according to more than a dozen employees who worked on it
Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘year of efficiency’ at Meta has spread to the company’s upper ranks and incompetent VPs are next to be culled
Irish coalition parties on top after marathon European election counts
Analysis-Super-rich may quit UK over Labour plans for inheritance taxes on trusts
After several near-misses on airport runways, a tech company revives work on a hazard-warning system
Fake news still has a home on Facebook

Others Also Read