Russian nuclear deployment to Belarus act of blackmail - security chief

Radek Pietruszka/PAP

The Russian president's announcement of the siting of nuclear weapons in Belarus is a further act of blackmail, the head of Poland's National Security Bureau (BBN) has told PAP.

Jacek Siewiera went on to say: "That act of blackmail concerns a strategic change in the balance of power in Central Europe."

On Saturday, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, announced that Moscow intends to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus. According to Putin, Russia has sent Belarus nine planes capable of carrying nuclear missiles and by June 1, facilities are to be built to house the weapons.

Siewiera said that many decisions made over the last year by Moscow were "incomprehensible and at the military level unjustified."

"However, this is not about how high the risk is that the war spreads beyond Ukraine, but on Russia's creation of a sense of threat that would negatively impact the formation of policy and the security strategy of countries of the West," he said.

"Putin's announcement concerning the deployment of atomic weapons to Belarus is a further act of blackmail, there is no doubt about that," Siewiera told PAP.

The security chief said Russia had used nuclear blackmail in Ukraine last autumn in an attempt to "spread fear in the Ukrainian armed forces and society. It was aimed at Ukrainians, to break their will to fight before a potentially effective counteroffensive.

"Today the blackmail is different," Siewiera continued. "...It is not an attempt to exert pressure on Ukraine, but on countries of the West. Because deploying nuclear weapons to Belarus is not only military in nature but also political and strategic... Sowing fear as an instrument of war, to scare the West away from supporting Ukraine."

He added that the use by Russia of tactical nuclear weapons "would make no operational sense."