The president of Belarus says Russian strategic nuclear weapons might be deployed in his country along with part of Russia’s tactical nuclear arsenal.
Russian president Vladimir Putin said earlier this week his country intends to deploy tactical, comparatively short-range and small-yield nuclear weapons in Belarus, its neighbour and ally.
The statement from Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko on Friday about strategic nuclear weapons such as missile-borne warheads will pose an even greater threat if it comes to pass.
Mr Lukashenko spoke during his state-of-the-nation address amid escalating tensions over the conflict in Ukraine and contentions that western powers want to ruin Russia and Belarus.
“Putin and I will decide and introduce here, if necessary, strategic weapons, and they must understand this, the scoundrels abroad, who today are trying to blow us up from inside and outside,” the Belarusian leader said.
“We will stop at nothing to protect our countries, our state and their peoples.”
Earlier on Friday, Mr Lukashenko unexpectedly called for a ceasefire in Ukraine.
A truce, he said in his address in Minsk, must be announced without any preconditions and all movement of troops and weapons must be halted.