(CTN NEWS) – Following a deal reached between the two countries last month, Russia has deployed its first nuclear weapon in Belarus, according to President Vladimir Putin’s announcement on Friday.
At a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin stated that “the first nuclear charges were delivered to the territory of Belarus,” emphasising that additional deployments would be undertaken in the upcoming months.
“This is the beginning. But we will accomplish this task totally by the end of the summer or the year, he said, referring to the action as a “element of deterrence.”
An agreement on the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus was signed by the defence ministers of Russia and Belarus in late May.
The agreement includes conditions for maintaining the weapons at a designated storage facility.
Putin stated earlier this year that Russia would deploy tactical nuclear weapons and finish building a specific facility for storing them in Belarus, a neighbouring country.
Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Against Russian Forces
In his speech, Putin also made reference to Ukraine’s continued efforts to retake territory held by Russian soldiers, claiming that Kyiv’s advance had fallen short of its objectives and had only reached Russia’s “first line” in some regions.
He asserted that Kyiv had suffered significant human losses and that Ukraine’s eagerly anticipated counteroffensive had come at a terrible cost.
“Ukrainian forces are able to reach the front line in several locations. Sometimes they fall short…
The crucial point is that they are utilising strategic reserves and that none of the sites have seen the accomplishment of their objectives, he added.
This followed Ukrainian assertions that Kyiv had advanced against Russian forces in several directions, including in the area of Bakhmut, a crucial flashpoint in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Putin noted that with the majority of Ukraine’s weaponry coming from imports, the country’s arms production has virtually stopped, indicating that Moscow has achieved progress towards its goal of “demilitarising” Ukraine.
Meanwhile, he said, Russia has increased military production by 2.7 times and is still expanding its capabilities.
“Another attempt is being attempted as we speak. The adversary is making various different attacks. They’ve reached the leading edge, and the conflict is currently taking place, he stated.
‘Burning’ Leopard tanks on the battlefield
Putin dismissed the possibility of a Ukrainian triumph in both the latest assault and the war as a whole.
He said that the German Leopard tanks that were earlier this year handed to Ukraine “are burning” there, and he added that if US-made F-16 fighter jets were also given to Kyiv, they would be shot down.
“NATO is joining the conflict in Ukraine… There is no question that the F-16s will likewise catch fire.
We will need to consider how and where to attack the weapons that are deployed against us, though, if they are located in air bases outside of Ukraine. This poses a major risk, according to Putin.
Putin claimed that Russia was capable of attacking the Kyiv government buildings but refrained from doing so for reasons he would not discuss in public.
In response to a question regarding whether Russia might launch a tactical nuclear attack in the ongoing fight, Putin stated that he was not inclined to do so and added that nuclear weapons should only be used as a deterrent.
Additionally, he disputed claims that recent accords with China had made Moscow subservient to Beijing.
Putin asserted that other nations, including those making the assertions, had already become reliant on China “a long time ago.”
I retort, “When I hear, ‘You will grow dependent on China,’ I question, ‘And you? “You’ve already become so a long time ago,” he added, adding that such interactions with Beijing had “not resulted in anything bad.”
Putin stated that Moscow did not wish to refuse payments in the American currency but that this was a possible consequence in the face of growing efforts to abandon commerce in US dollars in favour of national currencies.
“This will be the beginning of the end for the dollar,” he said, “if this trend gains momentum in stock exchanges and if other oil and gas exchanges appear where payments are not made in dollars.”
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