In his address, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told the nation and lawmakers that the West is "preparing to invade Belarus."
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said his country is seeking the deployment of nuclear weapons on its territory to prepare for a conflict with Western countries, during his address to the nation and parliament on Friday.
Lukashenko, a close Kremlin ally, said Moscow's plans to station tactical nuclear arms in Belarus would help "safeguard" the country, which he said was under threat from the West.
"I intensified, insistently, negotiations with Russian President Putin on the return of nuclear weapons to Belarus. Namely the return of nuclear weapons, which were withdrawn in the 90s under guarantees - no sanctions against those who withdraw, no pressure, no planning of offensives and revolutions. Everything has been trampled, all commitments broken," Lukashenko said.
"Take my word for it, I have never deceived you. They are preparing to invade Belarus, to destroy our country," he added.
The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday cautioned Belarus about allowing Russia to station tactical nuclear weapons on its territory, tweeting: “Belarus hosting Russian nuclear weapons would mean an irresponsible escalation & threat to European security. Belarus can still stop it, it is their choice. The EU stands ready to respond with further sanctions.”
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, almost 600 medium- and short-range missiles were withdrawn from Belarusian territory, according to the Belarusian foreign ministry.
Prior to that, the republic hosted a grouping of strategic forces of up to 40,000 people with one of the world's largest arsenals of nuclear weapons.
In the speech, the Belarusian leader also called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in the Ukraine war and warned that Russia would be forced to use "the most terrible weapon" if it felt threatened.
"It is impossible to defeat a nuclear power. If the Russian leadership understands that the situation threatens to cause Russia's disintegration, it will use the most terrible weapon. This cannot be allowed," he said.
Belarus and Russia have intensified their cooperation since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The Russian military has used its troops and missiles stationed in Belarus, although no Belarusian troops have participated in the fighting.