Calls Russia Can Placing Its Intercontinental Missiles In Belarus, President Lukashenko: I'm Not Trying To Intimidate

JAKARTA - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday that Russia, which has decided to place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, could place intercontinental nuclear missiles there if needed.

In an annual speech before lawmakers and government officials, President Lukashenko said Moscow's plan to place nuclear weapons in the territory of its close ally would help protect Belarus, which the West said was threatened.

"I am not trying to intimidate or blackmail anyone. I want to protect Belarusian countries and ensure peace for the Belarusian people," President Lukashenko said.

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that the tactical missiles would remain under Moscow's control, President Lukashenko suggested that he could use them with Russian approval if Belarus was threatened with collapse.

He also raised the prospect of deploying strategic nuclear weapons - intercontinental ballistic missiles that could destroy entire cities from thousands of miles away - in Belarus.

President Lukashenko said Belarus has enough conventional weapons to deal with threats, "but if we see that behind that (threat) there is the destruction of our country, we will use everything we have".

"If necessary, President Putin and I will decide and bring in strategic weapons - if necessary," he said.

He gave no evidence of any threat from the West, or further accusations that there were plans to invade Belarus from a neighboring Poland, which is a member of the Western NATO alliance led by the US.

"Believe me, I have never deceived you. They are preparing to attack Belarus, to destroy our country," he told the audience.

Russia's decision to place a tactical nuclear missile in Belarus amid rising tensions with the West over its invasion of Ukraine was the first nuclear arms deployment beyond its borders since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The UN Security Council met on Friday, at the request of the United States and Albania, to discuss President Putin's plans. US Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Robert Wood, accused Putin of "improving Russia's dangerous and destabilizing behavior" with threats to use nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia told the council that Putin was "clear about the fact that we did not transfer nuclear weapons, we spoke about the transfer of operational tactical missile complexes to Belarus."

Meanwhile, China, Moscow's strategic partner, did not specifically discuss Putin's plan. Chinese Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Geng Shuang told the council Beijing recommended "there is no deployment of nuclear weapons abroad by all nuclear weapons-owning countries and the withdrawal of nuclear weapons stationed on ships."

Earlier, Belarus said this week the weapons would provide protection against what it calls a pressure campaign from the United States and its allies aimed at overthrowing President Lukashenko, who has been in power for nearly three decades.

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he found the promised deployment "worrying".