US warns Russia against deploying nuclear weapons in ‘friendly neighbourhood’

“Any transfer of nuclear weapons to Belarus would be a dangerous provocation and further destabilize the region. We call on Belarus to reject Russia’s policies of nuclear threat and intimidation,” US envoy Odd Francis McKiernan said at the arms control conference, in comments released by the US mission.

Her comments come as the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva discussed Russia’s war, after Kyiv accused Moscow at the forum of “violating all core disarmament treaties”.

Russian news agencies said that a referendum was held in Belarus on Sunday, during which a new constitution was approved to give up the country’s status as a non-nuclear state, at a time when the former Soviet republic became a springboard for the Russian military operation.

Under the new constitution, nuclear weapons can be deployed on the territory of Belarus for the first time since it gave up nuclear weapons after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

This week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the Russian bombing amounted to war crimes.

Russia has described its actions in Ukraine as “special military operations” and says it is not aimed at occupying territory but rather at destroying its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and arresting what it considers dangerous nationalists.

Speaking at the arms control conference earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Kyiv was seeking nuclear weapons, adding that Moscow needed to prevent this.

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