Russian President Vladimir Putin told state television that Moscow will retain control over any of the tactical nuclear weapons it plans to station in neighboring Belarus.
He likened the move to the United States’ practice of stationing nuclear weapons in Europe. Washington retains control over the weapons, keeping host countries — like Germany — from breaking their commitments as non-nuclear powers.
“We are not going to hand over control of nuclear weapons. The US doesn’t hand it over to its allies. We're basically doing the same thing (US leaders) have been doing for a decade,” Putin said.
Some background: Even though there is no guarantee the Russian leader will follow through with his plan to station the weapons in Belarus, any nuclear signaling by Putin will cause concern in the West.
Since invading Ukraine more than a year ago, the Russian leader has used escalating rhetoric on a number of occasions, warning of the "increasing" threat of nuclear war and suggesting Moscow may abandon its "no first use" policy.
The United States has sought to make it clear to Putin the consequences of any use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, even low-yield tactical devices.