31 March: Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has claimed that his country needs Russian tactical nuclear weapons to defend itself from Western aggression, accusing Poland of planning to invade Belarus from across the border.
“I swear to you, I have never lied to you. They are getting ready to attack Belarus, to destroy our nation,” Lukashenko said in a yearly speech to lawmakers and government officials.
His remarks came after Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Russia would place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, marking the first time that Russia has deployed nuclear arms outside its borders since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Lukashenko said that the nuclear weapons would provide security for Belarus, which has faced pressure from the United States and its allies who want to oust him from power after 28 years of rule.
Lukashenko also called for an immediate end to the fighting in Ukraine and for negotiations to begin on a lasting peace agreement, warning that Russia would resort to “the most dreadful weapon” if it felt endangered.
“It is impossible to defeat a nuclear power. If the Russian leadership realizes that the situation threatens to cause Russia’s disintegration, it will use the most dreadful weapon. This must not be allowed,” he said.